Bain­i­marama Tells: Why I Took Up COP Pres­i­dency

Fiji Sun - - Nation - JY­OTI PRAT­I­BHA Edited by Rosi Do­viver­ata

The dev­as­ta­tion left be­hind by se­vere Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Win­ston sharp­ened Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to make Fiji more cli­mate re­silient. And, it is one of the main rea­sons why he took up the COP23 pres­i­dency.

In de­liv­er­ing his key­note ad­dress at a United Na­tions Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme (UNDP) side event – Risk In­form­ing Devel­op­ment, or­gan­ised on the mar­gins of COP23 in Bonn, Ger­many on Mon­day, Mr Bain­i­marama said he was now more than ever de­ter­mined to make Fiji bet­ter placed to with­stand a mon­ster storm which left 44 peo­ple dead and thou­sands home­less.

“Friends, aside from gal­vanis­ing my de­ter­mi­na­tion to help our peo­ple back on their feet, Win­ston also sharp­ened my de­ter­mi­na­tion to make Fiji more cli­mate re­silient.

“And to do what­ever I can in the great fo­rums of the world to high­light the plight of the cli­mate-vul­ner­a­ble. To se­cure the fi­nance and ac­cess to af­ford­able in­sur­ance we need to be able to adapt to the fright­en­ing new era that is upon us.

“It is cer­tainly one of the rea­sons I took on the chal­lenge of the Pres­i­dency of COP23. Be­cause if I can do any­thing to as­sist the cause of the vul­ner­a­ble na­tions – to draw at­ten­tion to their chal­lenges, let alone progress the cli­mate ac­tion agenda, it will have been well worth it.

Mr Bain­i­marama said he was hon­oured by the con­fi­dence the global com­mu­nity placed on Fiji to help chart a way for­ward.

He said storms were not only oc­cur­ring in the Pa­cific re­gion and that the re­cent cat­a­strophic weather event – Hur­ri­cane Ophe­lia which slammed into Ire­land and Scot­land soon af­ter­wards was proof that we all needed to act now.

Mr Bain­i­marama also re­minded peo­ple that had TC Win­ston made land­fall in Fiji’s more pop­u­lated ar­eas, or the cap­i­tal city or our tourism ar­eas, the blow to Fiji’s econ­omy would have been far worse.

“This is the level of risk we now face in Fiji along with ev­ery vul­ner­a­ble na­tion. That an ex­treme weather event strik­ing our en­tire na­tion could cause de­struc­tion on an epic scale. Cat­a­strophic. Apoc­a­lyp­tic. A blow that in the space of a few ter­ri­fy­ing hours, could wipe out decades of devel­op­ment. And make it im­pos­si­ble for us to meet our Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals.”

He said the Fi­jian Gov­ern­ment was in­sist­ing that any new devel­op­ment or cap­i­tal project must take into ac­count cli­mate risk be­fore be­ing given the goa­head.

Photo: DEPTFO News

Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama with the Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the Com­mon­wealth, Pa­tri­cia Scot­land, (third from right) in Bonn, Ger­many.

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