The search for new opportunities and the certainty of reliable services and infrastructure has fuelled an unprecedented rise in rural-to-urban drift Fiji’s Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama has said.
Speaking at the first Roundtable Discussions of the UN Habitat Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, he said that government can stem the rising tide by levelling the playing field across rural and urban regions.
More than 3000 officials from 116 countries are attending the three-day meeting, called, ‘Mobilising Commitments for the Climate Action Summit 2019.
Mr Bainimarama said that the Meeting presented a critical opportunity to spur a global re-imagining of how our cities and infrastructure networks could power sustainable development.
“Prolonged droughts, rising soil salinity levels, and severe weather events are forcing rural populations to seek the relative safety and economic security of urban environments. Many cities themselves face deep vulnerabilities to rising seas, worsening floods and other devastating climate impacts. Our cities are at a crossroad; they must either evolve into models of resilience or crumble into continuous sources of climate crises,” he said.
UN Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohammed Sharif described Mr Bainimarama as ‘a great Champion of Climate Change Action,’ and said that there was a need to accelerate resilient protection for the people not to move into urban areas.
“There is an urgent need to implement actions and not just plans. There’s no time to lose,” she said.
Mr Bainimarama shared Fiji’s plans of adapting towns, cities and rural communities in the face of a changing climate.
Urban Planning Initiative
“We have embarked on an urban planning initiative with the Singaporean Government that is placing low-emissions and climate-resilient strategies at the heart of our urban development agenda. Our efforts to build resilience must be matched with decisive cuts in global carbon emissions otherwise, climate impacts will intensify to a scale beyond any nation’s ability to manage,” he said.
“The sustainability of cities, towns and communities of the future will be determined by the strength of those commitments today. Let the weight of the enormous responsibility inspire us with conviction throughout our discussions, both at this Assembly and beyond,” Mr Bainimarama said.
Fiji PM Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama (File Picture)