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British Back Our COP23 Role With $4.4M

British Back Our COP23 Role With $4.4M
Tailevu North College Principal John Atalifo (from left), British High Commissioner to Fiji Melanie Hopkins with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama while opening rehabilitated classrooms in Tailevu on August 11, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar.
August 12
11:00 2017

The British Government has given $4.4million to assist our preparations for the COP23 meeting in Bonn, Germany, in November.

The British High Commissioner to Fiji, Melanie Hopkins, made the announcement on Friday while joining Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the Tailevu North College who opened newly rebuilt buildings that were damaged by Tropical Cyclone Winston.

She reminded people that relationships forged during tough times were relationships that last.

Spelling out three reasons why the British government and its people were assisting Fiji in this massive task of presiding over COP23, Ms Hopkins said: “We are all in this together. As a mother of children younger, older, same as you, I am personally committed to this cause. And it is only right that I announce our funding at a school. So that we all think about you, our future and what kind of world we want to leave you and your children in.”

She reiterated that climate change was the single greatest environmental threat to the United Kingdom and that they were aware of the existential threat climate change posed to Pacific Islands.

Secondly, she said they recognised the need for strong leadership now more than ever.

“The UK understands that Fiji’s presidency is about championing actions that we are clear that Fiji’s role in the design of the facilitative dialogue will be vital to assessing our collective progress towards decarbonisation,” she said.

“The UK was dismayed by the United States decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and we truly hope the US will reconsider this decision. The UK Government will continue to advocate for ambitious climate action.”

Thirdly, she pointed out that climate change was inextricably linked to the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Climate change is as much a security threat as it is an environmental, social and economic challenge. Here in the Pacific there can be no division between the risks posed by a changing climate and the impact on ocean ecosystems, disaster events, and the ability of Pacific nations to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals.”

Acknowledging the assistance, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said: “Britain has always been a great friend to Fiji. I also want to again thank the High Commissioner on behalf of every Fijian for Britain’s assistance in the wake of Cyclone Winston. Among other things, this included a substantial private donation to the relief effort by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. And it is wonderful to know that the Queen continues to take an interest in the welfare of the Fijian people 64 years after she first visited us in 1953.”

PM: We need to do our part

Meanwhile, Mr Bainimarama said he was not prepared to sit back and expect the rest of the world to deal with this challenge of climate change, a challenge that he described as “the greatest humanity has ever faced”.

Speaking to students of Tailevu North College yesterday, he reminded them that we must take the lead role in addressing this challenge.

“We all know people who lost their lives or who were injured. Many of you lost your homes or part of your homes. Well unfortunately the scientists tell us to prepare for the same again or even worse. Along with droughts, rising seas and the threat to our crops, the very survival of our nation is at stake. Our way of life. All that we hold dear.”

Mr Bainimarama reminded them also of the need to build stronger buildings.

“We Fijians have always answered the call to help meet a global challenge, whether in World War Two, Malaya or our ongoing peacekeeping missions in troubled parts of the world. And we are answering the call to help meet this one. To persuade the industrial nations to drastically reduce the carbon emissions that are causing our planet to heat up,” he said.

“So I appeal to you all to support me in the role of COP President. I need your prayers and good wishes if we are to make a success of this mission. Because if we can, we can bring honour to Fiji and we can truly make a difference.”

The major upgrading of five buildings that lost its roofs and walls, and fixing the damage to 23 other buildings cost just over $850,000.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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