Bainimarama Tells: Why I Took Up COP Presidency
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.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, (third from right) in Bonn, Germany.