The Talanoa spirit goes far at COP23

Jyoti Pratibha in Bonn, Germany

For the first time in the history of the COP process, a Presidential dialogue was held between parties and non-parties (Governments and Non-state actors) on Wednesday, November 8 in the ‘Bula Zone’ of the Conference Centre in Bonn, Germany.

Opening the dialogue, COP23 President and Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said that the ‘Talanoa’ was not a side-meeting but the main event in COP23.

Milestone acknowledged

Never before has such an open dialogue between world leaders, civil societies and the private sector been held in the conference of Parties.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa also acknowledged this milestone step taken under Fiji’s leadership.

COP23 is the UN Conference on Climate Change chaired this year by Mr Bainimarama.

Soon after taking over the post in June, he encouraged leaders of the Pacific countries to use it as an opportunity to advance awareness on the impacts of climate change in the South Pacific region.

“The Pacific cannot afford to drop the ball on climate action. We need to work together as a team to persuade the world to get points on the board if we are to ensure our own security and the security of generations of Pacific Islanders to come,” he had said.

Following are the extracts of his speech in Bonn:

This Open Dialogue has been mandated by the Parties and is designed to bring state actors and non- state actors together in the Bula Zone. I am delighted as COP23 President that we have been able to connect in this manner, because it goes to the heart of the Grand Coalition concept that Fiji has been promoting all year.

Party-driven forces

Of course, we understand that the formal negotiations are governed by the idea of a party driven process. But we also understand that the rich variety of non-state actors represented in this room have a great deal to contribute to that process. In fact, without the non-state actors, we will fall short of the objectives set by the Parties.

It is critical that we enhance the engagement between the various elements of the Grand Coalition – whether it is in the development of the next Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, or improving the procedures, considering the contributions of Non-State actors.

When we learn more about what is actually being delivered at the local level, we may find that our NDCs can be enhanced relatively easily. Because, so much is already happening there that has not yet been accounted for.

Talk and listen

Today, we will not be negotiating. We will be talking to each other.

And we will be listening. This is the perfect setting for adopting the Talanoa Spirit that is so much a part of what Fiji brings to the Presidency.

Together, we should learn how to engage all levels of Government, civil society, the private sector and billions of ordinary citizens in the formation of the national plans for climate action.

There will be good experiences to share and frankly, it is the only way forward.

But we must also be honest about what is not working.

Because the Talanoa Spirit is not just about being nice to everyone – although respect is essential; it is about contributing to a solution that requires a degree of straight talking. And whoever you represent today, I encourage you to embrace that spirit – honest, constructive dialogue for the common good.

-By Arrangement with Fiji Sun

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Photo Caption:

Fiji’s Prime Minister and COP23 President Frank Bainimarama speaking at the opening session of the Dialogue. Others (from left) are Climate Ambassador Deo Saran and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa (Photo by DEPTFO News)

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