Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama called on world leaders to commit to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals; to execute serious climate actions and secure peace today (24/09/22). Amidst upheavals being experienced across the world, from changing weather events, to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, to growing food insecurity and rising cost of fuel as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, the Prime Minister said the world’s collective commitments remain trifling.

Whilst delivering his national statement to the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, he said leaders have the capacity to take action on all these crises concurrently; the climate crisis; on war in Ukraine and the crisis of indifference to the challenges faced by small island states.

Prime Minister Bainimarama told world leaders at the General Assembly Hall that the Fijian Government has continued to work to advance the civil, political, and socioeconomic constitutional rights of every Fijian. “Our eight-year-old democracy has delivered the equality our people cherish; it has delivered services and the infrastructure they depend on.”

He said that he took time to present the Fijian story of development and progress to tell the world because he needed to show what was at risk if the world failed to take action.

In relating Fiji’s development story, he said it was not different from David and Goliath’s encounter: a small but determined nation battling large countries, corporations and interests.

The Prime Minister stressed his determination to create new jobs in nature, in technology, in sustainable tourism, and across our blue and green economy.

He added that since 2014, we have built or replaced hundreds of kilometres of water pipelines and improved access to clean water to over 80 percent of all Fijians.

“Thousands of Fijian households have gained access to electric power for the first time, propelling electricity access in the country upwards of 96% and we have replaced or outright built dozens of bridges and crossings and lit up the country with thousands of new streetlights. We have built, upgraded, or rehabilitated close to 1,000 kilometres of roads.”

Prime Minister Bainimarama said that this progress in sustainable development was achieved over the longest stretch of economic growth in Fijian history.

“Today we ask the world to join us to secure the SDG’s – we have 8 years left in which to achieve them. This is not the time for war, not the time for words but a time for will and a time for courage. We have exactly eight years left to deliver on the promise and hope of the SDGs.”

Prime Minister Bainimarama also expressed his condolences on the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. He shared his personal meeting with the late Queen, some four years ago, at a reception she hosted for the Commonwealth Leaders in London, which reaffirmed Fiji’s journey to new and true democracy. The Prime Minister said that the late Queen stepped aside from her duties to personally reach out to him, welcoming him and Fiji back into the Commonwealth with a handshake.

“It was a simple gesture, but a special affirmation of all that we had worked to achieve for Fiji’s new and true democracy. For we had done away with an undemocratic system that relegated hundreds of thousands of Fijians to the margins of society by design,” he said.

“We had adopted a new Constitution that echoed the spirit of the UN Charter’s promise to uphold equal rights for all peoples regardless of background, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, or physical ability or province.” In his speech, PM Bainimarama called on President Putin to stop the war in Europe; encouraging a diplomatic resolution.

He also called for the end of the crisis of indifference towards challenges that small states face internationally – from their access to markets; to access to concessionary finance; to their involvement in global decision making.

In his concluding remarks, he reiterated the call that developed nations needed to deliver on the $100 billion climate finance commitment by the time of COP27 in Egypt this year.

“Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, I told leaders not to bother packing their bags if they did not come with serious carbon-slashing commitments. I have a new ask before they arrive in Sharm El-Sheikh. Only come if you plan to arrive true to your climate finance commitments.”

“Only come to Sharm El-Sheikh if you are ready to agree to a loss and damage mechanism in addition to a post-2025 financing framework. This must be in the order of $750 billion, with at least 10 percent of climate finance destined for small island states,” stated PM Bainimarama.

The Prime Minister concluded his 2022 UNGA 77 visit with several more bilateral meetings. He will now be travelling to Washington DC for the first Summit of Pacific leaders with the President of the USA, which is to be held on the 27th and 28th of September at the White House.