Mr Chairman/Madam Chair,
Fiji is honoured and humbled by the confidence that the community of nations has placed in us to preside over the next United Nations Conference on Climate Change – COP 23 – in Bonn, Germany, next year.
We are the first Pacific Islands nation to be given this important task and we are acutely aware of the great responsibility that has been entrusted to us.
As the region of the world that is destined to bear the worst brunt of the effects of climate change, we have been given a crucial platform to put our case. And I make the following pledge to our island neighbours and the other low lying nations of the world, along with the rest of the international community.
Fiji will do everything in its power to fulfill its duty to place climate change at the very top of the global agenda. As President of COP-23, we will use this platform to continue to press for deeper cuts in carbon emissions to reduce global warming even further. And to counter the rising sea levels and extreme weather events that threaten the very existence of some nations.
We will also do everything we can to lobby the industrial countries who are responsible for these emissions to allocate adequate funding – in the form of grants – to enable us to build our resilience and adapt to the terrifying new era that awaits us.
I again appeal to the President-Elect of the United States, Donald Trump, to show leadership on this issue by abandoning his current position that man-made climate change is a hoax. On the contrary, the global scientific consensus is that it is very real and we must act more decisively to avert catastrophe.
As the second biggest carbon emitter on earth, the United States must take responsibility for contributing to our collective response to this crisis and show leadership at this critical time.
We in the Pacific – in common with the whole world – look to America for that leadership and for its engagement and assistance on climate change, just as we looked to America during the dark days of World War Two. And I say to the American people: You came to save us then. And it is time for you to help save us now.
I renew my offer to President-Elect Trump to come to Fiji to see the effects of climate change for himself. And to meet Pacific Island leaders face-to-face in Fiji to discuss the crisis we are all facing, along with other low-lying areas of the world including parts of America.
Fiji warmly thanks the nations of the Asia-Pacific for putting us forward and giving us our own opportunity to show leadership by presiding over COP-23. And I again pledge to do everything in our power to draw global attention to this most pressing issue that humanity faces – the preservation and survival of the planet on which we all live.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you