Our Number One Priority Is Land And Sea In Green Growth Plan: PM
Fiji has made the sustainable use of our land and sea resources as our Number One national priority, says Voreqe Bainimarama. “This is along with dealing with any threat to our development and the welfare of our people, and especially the threat posed by climate change,” the Prime Minister said. Mr Bainimarama was delivering his speaking points on Equitable and Sustainable Development for ACP Countries and Peoples Agenda 5 at the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government in Port Moresby on Tuesday. He said he was delighted to be able to share some of Fiji’s experiences with them as the only Pacific nation to have developed a Green Growth Framework that was at the heart of its development agenda. That framework, he said, set a benchmark for every development decision Government made in Fiji and stressed that no national project proceeded without meeting the fundamental requirement that it must be sustainable. He said Government had also incorporated the same principle into its Trade Policy Framework, which made sustainable development the foundation of all its efforts to develop trade with other nations. “We don’t want investors in Fiji who pose any threat to our environment. We want clean, green industries that are in keeping with our national priorities and objectives,” Mr Bainimarama said. He said Government started out with the underlying premise that the old ways of growing the economy, of developing the nation, were no longer adequate or acceptable. “Too much of what had been done had been unsustainable. In far too many instances, our resources had been exploited with little regard for the need to nurture them so that they can continue to provide the prosperity on which we all depend.”
As a developing state, he said Fiji knew that its pristine surroundings were its ultimate livelihood and they must do everything possible to protect them. According to Mr Bainimarama it is what draws hundreds of thousands of international visitors to Fiji’s shores every year, along with the famed hospitality of its people. And because tourism is its Number One industry, maintaining its island environment to the highest possible standard is crucial to maintaining the health of its economy.
It is an image, he said, that must be protected at all costs for the sake of the economic wellbeing of the Fijian people now and for generations to come. At sea, he said Fiji have had problems with overfishing, the stripping of reefs and of pristine waters polluted with refuse such as plastic bags, bottles and containers. He added that on land, Fiji had a problem with litter strewing many of its beaches and highways. Government, he said was currently trying to change the behaviour of the people to get them to take personal responsibility to keep Fiji clean.
“Far too often, in the past, developments that were not sustainable were given the go ahead; whether because of corruption, ignorance or both. But all that he said had now come to an end.” He said they had reached a consensus in Fiji that decisive action was needed to tackle some of these problems and set a benchmark for future development. With its Green Growth Framework unveiled last year, that is what they have done.