Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Congratulations on a successful first day. Our valuable discussions at the Tok Tok sessions have set the stage for tomorrow’s Summit. And we have – together — highlighted challenges and identified promising strategies to fight for the healthy future of our oceans and nations.

Throughout our discussions we saw how personally the issue of climate change, and the resulting rise in sea levels, affects us in the Pacific. Climate change is a threat to our culture, our security and our very existence, and that creates a stark reality for individuals and communities. Today, we were able to harness our well-founded concern and passion for these issues and hold meaningful talks on some of the most pressing challenges we face in working to avoid where possible and mitigate where necessary the ravages of climate change.

From the implementation of the Paris Agreement to the building up of our ocean’s resilience, we’ve gone far beyond a surface-level understanding of these issues. We’ve examined, in-depth, the practicality and feasibility of a number of solutions. Solutions that can change the lives of every man, woman and child who calls the Pacific home. This has been a day marked by progress, mutual understanding and commitment. And I was proud to be a part of it.

Thank you to our facilitators for helping lead the sessions and keeping our talks focused. Our productive discussions and promising outcomes are owed in no small part to your leadership throughout the pre-summit. And thank you to the Pacific Islands Development Forum for making this event possible.

The success of any conference can be measured by the passion and contributions of its participants. It is clear that our participants today have been fully engaged in our sessions and have offered consistently meaningful insights. Whether you are here from Government, civil society or the private sector, thank you again for being here. Thank you for showing your commitment to addressing the threat of climate change – the greatest single threat facing our world today. Your voices, your knowledge and your expertise form the backbone of our campaign to alert the world to our peril—and to jolt the industrialised nations into action to save our people and protect our oceans for future generations.

It is up to us to keep our oceans beautiful and sustainable. It is up to us to keep our nations safe and our people’s future secure. Those are sacred duties, and we can never afford to take them lightly. We need to understand the science, we need to harness all of our available resources and we need to take advantage of opportunities, such as this Pre-Summit, to strengthen the bonds between us, work together and share ideas and solutions. There is simply too much at stake for us to do otherwise. Or else we risk passing on an ocean environment to our children and grandchildren that is stripped of the bounty that we were privileged to enjoy.

So ladies and gentlemen, the work is only beginning. If our words today are to become actions, your dedication and commitment must extend past this week’s events and onto the global stage. There, we face everything from inertia to reluctance to staunch opposition from special interests that will continue to pollute our oceans if we leave them unchallenged. They will avert their eyes from the problem because they don’t like what they will see. And they will not put their shoulders to the wheel for a solution because they think it is too hard and would require too much sacrifice. We cannot let them avoid their responsibility. That the message we have sent loudly and clearly to the global community today. And I look forward to sending another strong message at tomorrow’s Summit.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.