Fiji calls for global solidarity on Climate Change

Venkat Raman

Venkat Raman

Auckland, September 28, 2020

                  Fiji’s Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama addressing the UN General Assembly on September 26, 2020 (Facebook)

Fiji has issued another clarion call to the world to accelerate action on Climate Change, saying that it is already getting out of hand and that no further time should be lost.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly marking its 75th Anniversary on Saturday, September 26, 2020, Fiji’s Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama said that the human race is helplessly watching the terrifying challenges and the hard-earned social progress ‘slipping through our collective fingers.’

Covid darkens prospects

“Months into economically-devastating lockdowns and border closures, a Covid-19 vaccine is still only guaranteed for those who can afford it. Five years post-Paris, global temperature rise is still projected to rocket past the two, three, or even four-degree mark, our ocean ecosystems are acidifying, and a sixth mass extinction event is already underway,” he said.

Stating that the small, South Pacific Nation has been a significant contributor to the progress of United Nations, he said that Fiji joined the world body three days after it gained independence on October 10, 1970. As such, the country is not only marking the Golden Jubilee of its Independence but also its membership to the United Nations.

“I ask anyone feeling bleak about the prospects of 2020 to imagine the world 75 years on from today should our foresight continue to fail us.”

“I recall the optimism of that moment; that sense among our people that Fiji had something good to give the world and something much larger to gain from a multilateral pursuit of peace. For 50 years, Fiji’s contribution to the United Nations has been driven by genuine care for those less fortunate than us and the uncompromising passion for the protection of our natural world,” he said.

Joining the other 150 Prime Ministers, Presidents and Heads of State attending the UN General Assembly which began in New York on September 26, 2020, Mr Bainimarama emphasised the spirit of solidarity and multilateralism to realise the shared vision on global peace and prosperity.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres speaking at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly UN Photo by Eskinder Debebe

Multilateral pursuit of peace

“Fifty years ago, Fiji recognised that we had far more to gain than we could ever give this Assembly. But that humble truth is not reserved for the world’s small developing states – the same can be said of even the mightiest among us. Every nation, large and small, stands a better chance at our best future by acting in solidarity. Guided by the UN, we are building a world of peace. But a world of net-zero emissions, sustainably managed oceans, gender equity, digital inclusivity, and equitable development is no less critical,” he said.

Mr Bainimarama said that we have the means to make that world reality and that we must meet the 75th year of the United Nations with the political fortitude to see it built.

“Multilateralism must deliver once again. And if leaders give voice and vigour to that purpose, then our people, our children, and their children, will all see the greatest gain,” Bainimarama said.

Fiji’s role in the UN

Stating that Fijian Peacekeepers have served more than 40 years defending the defenceless in the world’s most conflict-ridden regions, he joined the world leaders in calling for global solidarity to accelerate actions on climate-based solutions.

“Our oceans diplomacy spearheaded the United Nations Law of the Sea – of which Fiji is the first signatory. Fiji was the first country to ratify the Paris Agreement and today we join climate leaders in our commitment to net zero emissions by 2050,” he said.

Prior to his speech, Fiji’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Ambassador Dr Satyendra Prasad reminded members that “Fiji was not present at the founding of the United Nations 75 years ago; but today it is present today.”

The UN Secretariat has been preparing for the 75th General Assembly since the beginning of this year, seeking views and opinions of leaders, young people, women and men across the Pacific and the World. About 3000 Fijians gave their views on their expectations on changes that they want to see in the UN. Their inputs, the views of Fijian and world leaders will help to shape the future evolution and development of the UN.

About United Nations

Year 2020 signifies the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

Founded at the end of the World War II, the UN has evolved into the most important body for global governance, international peace and security and development.

In his opening remarks to World Leaders, the UN Secretary General António Guterres reflected on the remarkable progress by the world body and its important role in delivering global peace, justice and equality.

He thanked the member countries for their support to the 75th Anniversary Declaration that “is substantive, ambitious and forward looking to meet the great challenges of our times.”

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