Opinion | Sunvoice

EDITORIAL: Our PM, The ‘Buoy That Keeps The Nets Afloat’

If holding the forum in Tuvalu, an atoll nation whose very existence is threatened by climate change was not enough, it’s doubtful that Australia will budge to any persuasion from Pacific island friends or family.
17 Aug 2019 17:48
EDITORIAL: Our PM, The ‘Buoy That Keeps The Nets Afloat’
From left: Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva at the Pacific ACP leaders meeting on August 13, 2019. Photo: Ilaijia Ravuwai

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has been described as “a buoy that kept the nets afloat” when talks began to breakdown on the final day (which dragged late into the night) of the 50th Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Tuvalu.

Mr Bainimarama reminded other Pacific island leaders that this was their time to make a difference.

This was his first time back with the forum after a lapse of more than 10 years.

Like other Pacific island leaders, the need to col­lectively voice their concerns to the ‘bigger Pacific brothers’ about our climate-vulnerabilities was vital.

It’s a fight some have deemed as unattainable given corporate and global pressures – the call to the world to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Or as put aptly by the late Tony de Brum of the Mar­shall Islands: “1.5 to stay alive”.

This same call was again highlighted by Mr Baini­marama during his keynote address at the Sautalaga event.

For Pacific Island countries 1.5 is non-negotiable and all attempts to derail it in global forums will be resisted.

Sadly, when commitments were put to paper, Aus­tralia would not support the rest of the forum.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Bainimarama said that while there has been a great deal of agreement in Funafuti, it is clear that there are differences of opinion, emphasis and approach between the island nations and New Zealand, on the one hand, and Aus­tralia on the other.

But he is hopeful that Australia will soon make rap­id transition from coal to energy sources that do not contribute to climate change.

For Fiji’s “Vuvale Partnership” with Australia, keeping the conversation alive and working things out amicably is key.

What’s the use of such a relationship if a “vuvale” member stands by only to watch the other slowly fade away or drown?

Family or “vuvale” stand up for each other and fight on no matter what.

Mr Bainimarama was concerned that the differenc­es that came out of the final communique inevitably weakens the strength of the Pacific’s collective posi­tion.

He was disappointed that a consensus was not reached.

If holding the forum in Tuvalu, an atoll nation whose very existence is threatened by climate change was not enough, it’s doubtful that Australia will budge to any persuasion from Pacific island friends or family.

Even the welcoming party of children and adults wading through water at the Funafuti Airport to wel­come PIF leaders and delegates was enough to tug at the heart.

Not for Australia and Prime Minister Scott Morri­son.

Instead he chose to do a traditional dance with the Nui island communities called the ‘fatele’.

They too are threatened every day by climatic changes.

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

 

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