Analysis

Bainimarama Keeps Promise To His Tuvaluan Counterpart

The Tuvaluans are banking on him to help fight for their survival in a region threatened by climate change.
12 Aug 2019 12:25
Bainimarama Keeps Promise To His Tuvaluan Counterpart
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (right), flew into Tuvalu on board a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft. He is being received by Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Taukelina Finikaso on August 11, 2019. Photo: DEPTFO News

Analysis:

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had promised his Tuvalu counterpart, Enele Sopoaga, that he would be in Funafuti today before other leaders arrive for the Pacific Islands Forum meeting.

He kept his promise.

In fact, he arrived yesterday on board a military aircraft.

His presence is the talking point of the forum leaders and for local Tuvaluans because of his leadership in the global climate change battle.

This is his first time back attending the forum meeting after 12 years.

Previously, his former Foreign Affairs Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, attended.

Current Foreign Affairs Minister Inia Seruiratu is with Mr Bainimarama in Funafuti.

Mr Bainimarama has always been of the view that Australia and New Zealand should let the small islands states in the region decide the agenda instead of what the two development partners have done previously.

Since its creation in 1971, the forum appeared to have lost its regional development purpose.

It was becoming like a political hub for regional leaders.

Now the thinking gas changed, influenced by the formation of the Pacific Islands Development Forum.

For this forum meeting climate change is top of the agenda.

For the Tuvaluans, Mr Bainimarama holds a special place in their hearts for his passion and compassion.

Mr Bainimarama, speaking at several international forums on climate change, has always cited Tuvalu as one of the small island states threatened by rising sea level because of climate change.

Ground-breaking deal

In 2017, Mr Bainimarama announced that people from Tuvalu and Kiribati, could settle permanently in Fiji if they are forced from their own islands due to climate change.

He is expected to reaffirm the offer in Funafuti.

Such a show of compassion is treasured by the Tuvaluans.

He said they would not be refugees and Fijians would welcome them into their own homes and hearts.

He said then “we ask other countries to offer the same hospitality to anyone who is displaced by climate change. Because ultimately, we are one world, one people”.

Mr Bainimarama will be given a big welcome today as he and Mr Sopoaga jointly open a special session on climate change.

The Tuvaluans are banking on him to help fight for their survival in a region threatened by climate change.

His COP23 presidency is not lost on them during, which he put their plight on the world map.

Climate change discussions will dominate the meeting if Mr Bainimarama has his way not geopolitics.

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