PM Announces First Three Appointments For COP23

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday announced the first three appointments as the country prepares for COP23. Fiji has been given the role to preside over the 23rd session of the
24 Nov 2016 11:00
PM Announces First Three Appointments For COP23
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with US Ambassador to Fiji Judith Cefkin yesterday discussing America’s participation at COP 23. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday announced the first three appointments as the country prepares for COP23.

Fiji has been given the role to preside over the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the headquarters of the UNFCCC secretariat in Bonn, Germany in November next year.

The three appointees are:

 Ovini Ralulu, Director of Climate Change Division, Strategic Planning Office, Ministry of Finance Relocation Project. Mr Ralulu will be attached to the UNFCC Office in Bonn as our liaison officer and co-ordinator

 Deo Saran, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Fijian Embassy in Brussels. Amassador Saran is Ambassador Responsible for Climate Change and will attend meetings if Mr Bainimarama as COP23 President and Mr Ralulu are unable to attend meetings

 Inia Seruiratu, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, National Disaster Management. He has been appointed High Level Champion to ensure that the momentum, theme and vision for COP23 is maintained.

Mr Bainimarama said most of the logistics of organising COP23 would be handled by Germany.

In a briefing yesterday to Government ministers and ministries, members of the diplomatic corps and the media, Mr Bainimarama said 2017 was going to be a huge year for Fiji in its engagement with the rest of the world – President of COP23 and co-host of the United Nations Conference on Oceans.

“So I want to brief you all on how I see the year ahead, its importance to our nation and what it means to every Fijian.

“To those of you in the Diplomatic Corps and from Non-Government Organisations, I want to begin by thanking you for the support that you have already given Fiji and to ask for your continuing assistance.

“We are a small nation with limited resources. And we will need the help of our development partners to enable us to take a lead role in these two very important initiatives for humanity – confronting the threat of climate change and reversing the degradation of our oceans and seas.

“The confidence that has been placed in us is deeply appreciated.”

He said we needed global action to lower the global temperature and stop the assault on the health of our oceans and seas caused by pollution and overfishing.

“Nowhere do these two imperatives come together more starkly than in our own region – in Fiji and the rest of the Pacific.

“At precisely the same time as we are having to deal with stronger and more frequent cyclones, arable land ruined by salinity and the need to relocate entire communities out of the way of the rising seas, the quality of the water around us on which we depend for food and our livelihoods is under unprecedented threat.

“I am going to be honest with you. I sat in the room in Marrakesh and looked around for evidence of the kind of resolve that the global community must have if we are to save ourselves. And I’m afraid that in far too many instances, it simply wasn’t there.

“Yes, there is a growing realisation that something must be done and we must all thank those nations that have taken the first step by ratifying the Paris Agreement. But I don’t think there is sufficient appreciation yet of the scale of the threat the world faces.

“It was suggested to me at one stage that Fiji needed to be more diplomatic when I formally accepted the presidency of COP23. No! We are going to press as hard as we can for decisive global action. And Fiji, as the President of COP23, intends to bring the global community together. And encourage the high carbon emitters and the low carbon emitters to find common ground.

“Because I passionately believe that only by working together co-operatively and educating the world about the facts of climate change, can we tackle the crisis that confronts us all.

“It is also the time for some plain speaking. For Frank to be frank, which I am always keen to do. In our quest to bring everyone together for a truly global solution – which is in the best interests of all nations in the long run – we will at times have to speak very plainly and frankly.

“We cannot be muzzled by diplomatic niceties. And as President of COP23, I intend to tell it like it is.

“Because it is the only way for us all to move forward.

“We also need the financial tools to strengthen our infrastructure. To build walls to keep the seas at bay.

“To put our power lines underground. To move our communities out of the path of the rising waters. We need to build our economic and social resilience.

“We cannot have the second biggest carbon emitter in the world – the United States – unilaterally withdrawing from this effort. We must persuade the American President-elect, Donald Trump, to change his mind about pulling out of the Paris Agreement.

“Because if he does, then there is no hope for the world to comprehensively tackle this issue.

“Without America, the battle against climate change is doomed. Without America, it is already lost.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi



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