MEDIA RELEASE: FIJIAN PRIME MINISTER LEADS PACIFIC DISCUSSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has led a high level panel discussion of Pacific leaders on sustainable development during his current visit to Bangkok for a meeting of UNESCAP – the United Nations Regional Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

The leaders of five other Pacific Island countries – Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu – also took part in the discussion on aspects of the “SAMOA Pathway”, the action on sustainable development that was agreed to at the meeting of Small Island Developing States from around the world in Apia last September.

The Prime Minister outlined Fiji’s first ever Green Growth Framework, describing it as central to the Government’s national development program and saying it would be a cornerstone of both the five year and 20 year national plans that are currently being developed to take Fiji forward.

He said that Fiji needed a new development model – one that is more holistic, integrated, inclusive and above all sustainable.

“We needed a new approach that links economic growth and environmental protection. To build a green economy in which the driver of growth is more intelligent, more effective and has the common interests of all citizens in mind.”

Describing the Green Growth Framework as “evolving and work in progress”, the Prime Minister said its main purpose was to “restore the balance in development that is sustainable for our future – to keep Fiji relatively pristine and live up to our global image that we must work harder to maintain.”

He stressed the importance for ESCAP member states “to be a lot smarter in the way we exploit our natural resources – whether it is our fish at sea or our forests on land.”

Speaking on the need for a distinctive Pacific sustainable development model dubbed, ‘Green Growth in Blue Economies’, the Prime Minister highlighted the “failure of the industrialised nations to curb their carbon emissions” and implored them to “give Pacific Islanders a fighting chance against the rising sea levels caused by those emissions.” The Pacific Small Island Developing States are especially vulnerable in this regard.

He said that Pacific countries need to grow their economies in a sustainable manner without jeopardising their pristine environment and the futures of all Pacific Islanders to come.

The Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) was highlighted as playing a key role in bringing Pacific leaders together, including those from the private sector and civil society to collectively address the negative impacts of climate change and promote Green Growth in Blue Economies in the Pacific region.

Prime Minister Bainimarama was congratulated by other participants for showing the necessary political will to produce “ an ambitious and forward-looking Green Growth Framework for Fiji” and for his impending appointment tomorrow (Thursday) as Chair of the 71st Session of the UNESCAP.