It’s Time To Act To Protect Our Ocean And Its Resources
Tommy Remengesau, the President of Palau, did not mince his words in Suva yesterday.
He says the time for debates, planning and discussions is over about climate change and protecting our oceans.
Long before many we started focusing on climate change and oceans, he was already talking about the challenges we face.
That is why he says that now is the time to act.
Our livelihood, our food security, economic security and cultural security are at risk.
That’s the reason the meeting of leaders in Suva is so important that they must come up with a powerful submission that will jolt delegates at the World Ocean Conference in New York in June.
Fiji is co-hosting the conference with Sweden.
Palau shares the same concerns with other island states with its own account of the dreadful impact of climate change and ocean degradation.
In Palau, he says, sea level rise is very critical.
“Sea waters are seeping into people’s living rooms during high tides, there are unpredictable waves of typhoons and sea surges.”
Typhoon Boha followed by Typhoon Haiyan caused a major economic setback. Palau is small compared to Fiji. It is 508 sq km and has a population of 20,600.
Mr Remengesau is advocating that island states should do whatever is necessary and whatever they can to tackle climate change.
The international community will come in to help. He also called for political will to make changes. He recognised Fiji’s leadership in this area.
The gathering of leaders here demonstrates the progress Fiji has made in raising awareness on climate change and the oceans.
Our Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has led the charge on these two fronts and like Mr Remengesau, he wants action.
Fiji like Palau depends on its ocean resources to keep the economy moving forward.
Minister for Fisheries and Oceans Champion, Semi Koroilavesau, who opened the Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting on Oceans, stressed the importance of commitment and action to make a difference.
The conference hopefully will get the leaders working closely together to implement the Sustainable Development Goal 14 about conserving our oceans, seas and marine resources.
It will make the participation of Mr Remengesau and other leaders worthwhile.