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Hon.PM Bainimarama at the Launch of Fiji's National Adaptation Plan

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula vinaka, zao shang hao and a very good morning to you all.

I’m very pleased that China has hosted this event to highlight the huge potential in south-south economic cooperation on climate change. At a similar event at COP23 last year, I made the point that it is not sufficiently appreciated how significant this cooperation already is and how important it is going to be in all of our futures. And I very much appreciate the important leadership role that China is playing – along with other nations such as India – in helping to draw global attention to the great potential this offers in the climate struggle. Whether it is through the provision of cleaner energy, modern infrastructure that is more energy efficient or boosting human resources to better deal with the climate threat.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the governments of China and India for the support they gave towards Fiji’s COP23 Presidency. This was a south-south transfer of resources that helped enable Fiji to become the first Small Island Developing State to preside over the UN climate negotiations. And we very much appreciate that generosity and the opportunity it gave Fijians and other climate vulnerable people to have their voices heard.

I made the point as COP23 President that for too long, our global conversation about climate action - especially when it comes to finance and technology - assumed that all the answers to the big questions lie in the north, among the developed nations. While we have concentrated political and diplomatic effort to move finance and technology from north to south, the fact is that in the real economy, technology, finance and human resources are moving from south to south in very large volumes. And this is leading to geopolitical shifts in influence that some may find uncomfortable but is the new reality and should be embraced for the opportunities it offers to billions of people around the world.

There is a long list of countries in what is called the “Global South” that make significant contributions to the economic development of other nations in the south and these contributions are extremely important. But through their sheer size and economic power, China and India head that list and we can expect both nations to assume an even greater importance in the years ahead.

China’s Belt and Road Strategy is a massive investment in infrastructure in the future global economy that we in the Pacific welcome. We very much hope that a principal focus of this strategy will be to help us all develop net zero emission and more climate resilient economies and societies. China’s ability to deliver affordable renewable energy is already having a beneficial impact in many places and we trust that this effort can be scaled up as time progresses.

India is also taking a lead, especially in the development of solar power, and this holds out the prospect that coal consumption will decline, providing not only clean energy but improving air quality and the standard of public health. Both India and China - along with many other countries - understand that pollution has a cost.

It has taken them perhaps too long to realise it but both these economic powerhouses have now placed themselves on a cleaner, more sustainable footing. The technologies they are developing for themselves – such as the convergence between renewable energy, storage and electrification of transport – can be offered to other countries in the south and I very much hope that happens on a sizeable scale as the years progress.

Friends, I have made the point before as COP23 President that whatever we do moving forward, our infrastructure of the future will have to be both resilient to climate change and clean – whether it is new energy and transport systems, efficient buildings or communications networks that assist the digital revolution. We are not moving forward into a better future if we build in more pollution and climate risk. So we must all summon the courage and political will to make the switch from dirty energy to clean energy and, depending on our ability to do so, share the technology and expertise that has enabled us to make that journey with others.

We no longer look to the north for all the answers because we have a great deal of them in the south. By continuing to strengthen our own cooperation, we can do a great deal to improve our own contribution to the climate struggle. And play a greater role in helping the world achieve the 1.5 degree warming target that is the only way we can ensure the security and prosperity of our own people and all humanity.

Thank you for the opportunity to address you this morning. I regret that I will miss the rest of this session because I am about to launch Fiji’s National Adaptation Plan in the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion. But I wish you well as you continue your discussion.

Vinaka vakalevu. Xi Xi. Thank you.

J.V Bainimarama
Prime Minister.



Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen 

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

Nothing is more  important to us as climate-vulnerable nations than to have the means to adequately adapt to the frightening new era that is upon us - the extreme weather events, rising seas and changes to agriculture caused by climate change.

As COP23 President, I repeatedly called on the industrial nations to free up the many billions of dollars needed for adaptation purposes through the Green Climate Fund. And while some of that has now started to flow, we need to do a lot more and to have that finance more focussed on where it is needed most. 

Of course, we all need to focus as nations on our own adaptation measures. So I’m delighted to welcome you all here this morning for the official launch of Fiji’s first National Adaptation Plan. 

Firstly, I want to acknowledge and thank Dr. Adrian Fenton and the National Adaptation Plan Global Network for providing us with the technical and financial support to develop this blueprint for our adaptation efforts. I also thank the governments of the United States and Canada for their assistance with the project.

As I said in our National Statement to the COP last week, this involves a continuous and progressive process to ensure a systematic and strategic approach to adaptation in all government decision-making. We are placing a particular emphasis on agriculture, fisheries, biodiversity, health and a range of adaptation action in all of our communities, from our cities to small rural and maritime communities. 

These range from building sea walls and relocating communities threatened by rising seas to strengthening our infrastructure through improved building codes to withstand the extreme weather events that are becoming more frequent and intense. 

In the Talanoa Dialogue yesterday – one of Fiji’s key COP legacies – I spoke of the devastating effect on Fiji in February 2016 when we were struck by the biggest tropical cyclone ever to make landfall in the southern hemisphere. As many of you know, Cyclone Winston killed 44 or our people, left many thousands homeless, devastated our infrastructure and caused losses equal to one third of our GDP.

Even almost three years on, we are still yet to fully recover. But above all, Winston has taught us all a lesson and has had an indelible impact on the national psyche. We know that because of the stronger and more frequent storms caused by climate change, it is only a matter of time before Fiji is struck again. And every year, our people share a deep sense of foreboding as they scan the horizon and listen to the weather reports.

We were fortunate that Winston spared much of the country, including most of the vital tourism areas on which our prosperity as a nation depends. But we are acutely conscious that were a similar storm to score a direct hit on Fiji, all that we have built up over many decades could be destroyed in the space of a few terrifying hours. 

The threat to our people and our economy is now an ever present danger even outside the traditional cyclone season. So we know that we must be prepared for any contingency. And that also applies to the rising seas that are forcing us to relocate entire communities and the changes to agriculture – like increased salinity – that pose a threat to our food security and the livelihoods of our people.

Friends, we have some hard copies of the National Adaptation Plan available here today, should you require one, or you can access it on the Net at our Ministry of Economy website

What you will find there is a comprehensive document emphasising a whole-of-economy approach that aligns with our National Climate Change Policy and other key strategies such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction Policy, the Climate Vulnerability Assessment and Green Growth Framework. Above all, it places our adaptation strategy at the core of Fiji’s five and 20 year National Development Plan. So it is a holistic approach to reducing risk and stresses the critical importance of our response to the climate threat being as efficient as it can possibly be. 

None of this can be done without improving the responsiveness of our institutions and our processes of governance. So the Fijian Adaptation Plan stresses the importance of improving efficiency across the whole of government to provide better coordination and increase our ability to mobilise our resources.

Friends, formulating this Plan has been an inclusive exercise involving a wide range of stakeholders in government, civil society and the private sector. And I want to use this opportunity to thank everyone who took part and the great contributions you all made.

We now have a blueprint that is not only comprehensive and holistic but that we can build on as time goes by. And we can be sure that as the climate threat increases, we are going to learn by bitter experience what works and what doesn’t and be able to adapt our plans to meet whatever contingency emerges.

In closing, I want to repeat the consistent appeal that I have made as COP23 President for the world to do much more to address the root causes of climate change and the ultimate reason we are so much in the firing line through no fault of our own.

We need a fivefold increase in climate ambition - five times more action - if we are to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above that of the pre-industrial age and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. So I appeal to the world to follow the lead taken by Fiji and the Marshall Islands as the first two nations to commit to increasing their NDCs by 2020. As I keep saying, if we can do it, so can you. I’m very pleased to see that Canada and Jamaica are already committing themselves to raising their own NDCs. And I very much hope that this will become an unstoppable force by the time we all gather in New York next September to review our collective ambition at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit.

Thank you for your attention this morning and I now have the great pleasure to formally launch Fiji’s National Adaptation Plan.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you. 


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