Island States at UN Assembly call for stronger global partnerships to tackle crises
2 October 2015 Leaders from, small island States took their turn at the podium of the United Nations General Assembly today to call for the strengthening of cooperation between international organizations in solving global crises, from resolving conflicts to tackling climate change.
“We are particularly supportive of the recommendation for stronger and deeper partnerships between global and regional organisations to promote international peace and security” Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth of Mauritius told the Assembly’s 70th annual General Debate , lauding Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s initiative to review peace buildings mechanisms.
He cited the collective efforts of the UN, the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Indian Ocean Commission and other regional economic communities in resolving the recent political stalemate in Madagascar.
Similar collaboration has also enabled the AU to deploy robust operations in complex situations in Mali, the Central African Republic and Somalia, he noted.
On climate change, Mr. Jugnauth said small island developing States (SIDS) like his own, which lies in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, are particularly vulnerable to natural hazards, voicing the hope the global conference on the issue in Paris in December will succeed.
“Mauritius believes that the greatest challenge to peace and security in the years to come will be climate change which requires our utmost attention now,” he declared.
“Let there be a carve-out for SIDS, the most vulnerable of all the least developed countries and Africa, to enable them to implement fully the necessary mitigation and adaptation measures.
Let financing be available and predictable in addition to the sharing of technology to address a collective threat.”
From the Atlantic side of Africa, Sao Tome and Principe also highlighted the importance of cooperation.
“Located in the Gulf of Guinea, where we have seen a fresh outbreak of acts of maritime piracy, terrorism, drug trafficking, oil heists, and other transnational organized crimes, Sao Tome and Principe understands that the international community must combine its efforts to put a stop to such acts,” Foreign Minister Manuel Salvador dos Ramos told the Assembly.
He cited various existing partnerships, both bilateral and multilateral, and the cooperation among the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) in promoting significant progress against criminal organizations in the region.
On climate change, his country hopes that agreement, once it is reached, will enhance the international obligation of all signatory parties to make funds available for the continued scientific monitoring of climate issues and the transfer of technology to developing countries.
From Tuvalu in the South Pacific, Foreign Minister Taukelina Finikaso noted that climate is an existential issue for his small island nation, whose highest point is only 15 feet above sea level.
“Sea level rise continues to inundate many of our small island coastlines and inundate our food plantations,” he said. “That is a security issue, an urgent one and an inter-generational one. It is an existential issue for Tuvalu and other Pacific countries and also bigger populated countries in the flood plains, and wilt displace many people.
“Whilst many of our citizens are opting to migrate on their own terms because of existential issues, migration does not solve global warming and the UN does not sanction climate change migrants as refugees. That is a dilemma for us in Tuvalu.”
He stressed that the Paris conference must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep the global average temperature rise to beiow1.5 degrees Celsius, as well as provide credible, timely public finance and clarity from developed countries to the pledges of $100 billion for climate change finances.
Kiribati, a Pacific Island State straddling the Equator, stressed the need for a collective global effort to help those nations most threatened by climate change. “We cannot do it alone,” Natanaera Kirata, Minister of Public Works and Utilities said.
“We call for new and accessible financial resources to assist the most vulnerable to adapt and build resilience to climate change,” he added. “We must all step up our national and collective efforts to mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions. We must urge major greenhouse gas emitters to do their part.”
He said the new challenges demanded all the resources available to the global community since sustainable development and global challenges such as climate change should not be confined to the sphere of Governments only.
“Let us call on those with the ability to assist and who have a contribution to make, to join in the global dialogue and more importantly, join urgent action to address this major challenge,” he declared.
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Philippines highlights climate change, good migration governance in address at UN
2 October 2015 Addressing the General Assembly today, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the Philippines, Albert del Rosario, highlighted, among other vital elements of the international agenda, the need to address the issues of climate change and migration.
“The Philippines knows only too well the urgency of building a climate-resilient economy, being one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world and having experienced, almost two years ago, the devastating impact of Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest typhoon to have made landfall in recorded history.”
“Given the new normal of mega-disasters,” he said, “the Philippines will continue to play an active role in tackling the issues of climate change, resiliency and disaster risk reduction and management.”
Mr. del Rosario said the Philippines would promote a meaningful outcome for the upcoming climate change conference in Paris, and urged the international community to adopt “a new, legally-binding agreement that is universal and equitable, one that ensures a bright and low-carbon future for the next generation.”
Speaking on disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), he noted that the Philippines would be guided by the Sendai Framework for 2015-2030. He added that, while the framework recognizes that States have the primary role in DRRM, the responsibility should also be shared with local government and the private sector, among others.
Mr. del Rosario also highlighted the issue of migration.
“We deeply appreciate the UN’s recognition of the Philippines as a model of migration governance because of its comprehensiveness in terms of managed deployment, solid protection component, diaspora engagement and re-integration,” he said. “Both the UN and the Philippines believe that migration governance is really about giving migrants a “human face.”
He also stressed that migration “must be a shared international responsibility” and that “migrants’ human rights must be fully respected in all circumstances.”
Turning to the subject of human trafficking, the minister said that his nation would work with other governments to strengthen anti-trafficking mechanisms.
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Island States threatened by rising seas call at UN for urgent action on climate change
1 October 2015 Islands States from the Pacific and Caribbean took to the podium of the United Nations General Assembly today to call for urgent action on climate change, with one leader warning that their people and culture face “potential genocide” from rising seas.
“I speak as an islander who has walked the shores of many atoll islands, where there was once sandy beaches and coconut trees. Now there are none. I am told this will continue,” President Peter Christian of Micronesia told the Assembly on the fourth day of its 70th annual General Debate.
“While we wait in fear for the predicted and inevitable sea level to rise, other effects of global warming, like stronger ocean currents and more frequent typhoons, continue to wash away shorelines and topple tress, not waiting around for the sea to rise above the land.”
Mr. Christian voiced hope that the international climate change conference in Paris in December would resolve the disagreements over allowable emissions of greenhouse gases by industrial nations.
“We must become more cohesive in our actions to bring a useful conclusion to help mitigate the threat of sinking islands and prevent the potential genocide of Oceanic peoples and cultures,” he declared.
Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogovare said the issue was existential. “It impacts on everyone, but the poorest and marginalized populations often bear the greatest burden. It is imperative that the Paris Conference delivers an ambitious, comprehensive and robust climate change Agreement that is inclusive and leaves no one behind,” he added.
He noted that Solomon Islands tourism, fisheries and the livelihood of 85 per cent of its people are at risk from ocean acidification. Sea level rise already has seen land inundation, loss of biodiversity, threat to food security and the resulting relocation of populations from low lying islands to other parts of the country.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne of the Caribbean State of Antigua and Barbuda chided the industrial world for its long-standing emission of globe warming gases for which the less developed islands are now paying the price.
“The sadness is that these disasters are not occurring in these islands through their own fault,” he said. “They are happening because of the excesses of larger and more powerful countries, who will not bend from their abuse of the world’s atmosphere, even at the risk of eliminating other societies, some older than their own,” he said.
“All industrialized nations should accept their responsibilities as the chief contributors in emitting high levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” he declared.
Mr. Browne also condemned the recent listing in the United States and Europe of many Caribbean and Pacific Island States as “tax havens” and warned that “such wrongful tarnishing” could lead to US and European financial institutions cutting relations with their banks.
“If that happens, no one in our small States will be able to pay for any goods or services purchased from the United States and Europe, including food, tuition for our young studying abroad and medication and medical bills for our people in need of specialist treatment,” he explained.
“The consequences would be disastrous, since we would be excluded from the international payment system and would be unable to settle our trade and investment transactions. Our banking system would collapse, our economy would be irreparably damaged and our people would be plunged into abject poverty.”
The need for a binding agreement at the Paris climate change conference was echoed by Bahamas Foreign Minister Frederick A. Mitchell who urged all countries to work toward its success.
“Even as we speak, The Bahamas is under the threat of flooding and a hurricane,” he said. “This reinforces the existential threat of climate change to our country.”
For his part Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato of Papua New Guinea called on the UN Security Council to deal decisively with the implications of climate change.
“Climate change poses imminent dangers with wide ranging implications, including threats not only to human security, survival and development, but also to the entire global ecosystem,” he said.
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Pacific islands play vital role in advancing action on climate change, Ban tells leaders
1 October 2015 Located on the frontlines of climate change, Pacific island nations have a crucial role to play in efforts to advance a sustainable future, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the region’s leaders as they met today at United Nations Headquarters.
“You speak for the most vulnerable. That is why I am counting on you to raise your voices to build political momentum to resolve outstanding issues,” Mr. Ban told the meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum.
“The PIF is crucial to realizing our global vision for a sustainable future.”
Mr. Ban noted that this year Member States have agreed on key global policies – on disaster risk reduction, on financing for development, and most recently on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which collectively aim to ensure the long-term well-being of the planet and its people.
“All of these will boost our work on the SAMOA Pathway for small island developing States,” he said, referring to the outcome of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), held in the Samoan capital of Apia in September 2014.
In its 124 points, the SAMOA [SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action] Pathway includes actions for categories ranging from “sustained and sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth with decent work for all” to “climate change” and “health and non-communicable diseases.”
Noting the need for action on climate change, which has a severe impact on the Pacific region, the Secretary-General said he will continue to call on major economies to raise their level of ambition. “And I will press for priority attention to the needs of small island developing States and least developed countries,” he added.
Mr. Ban recalled his visit to Samoa last year during which he visited Lepa to witness the damage from the 2009 tsunami.
“It was a powerful reminder of how badly small islands are hit by extreme weather events. And it was a sober lesson on how urgently we need to invest in climate change adaptation and mitigation.”
At the meeting, the UN chief also noted the progress made across the Pacific regarding gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“But we still have to help women who are threatened by violence. We have to do more to involve women in politics. And we have to make women’s rights a reality everywhere.”
The Forum, whose secretariat is based in Suva, Fiji, is a political grouping of 16 independent and self-governing States.
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Madagascar urges steps towards meaningful agreement at upcoming UN climate talks
1 October 2015 Having just launched the landmark new Global Goals, the United Nations now has a “rendezvous with history,” the President of the Madagascar declared today, telling the General Assembly that the new framework would set the world on the path to sustainability and that a vital first step on the path would be to secure a concrete agreement at the Paris climate conference in December.
The President said that it was important to recognize that developing countries are not the main parties responsible for climate change, although they paid a heavy price. Madagascar is systematically suffering from the consequences of climate change, resulting in losses and often destroying efforts to make progress, socially and economically.
Ahead of the Paris conference, he said the Government had announced that its commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 14 per cent and increase its absorption capacity by more than 30 per cent by 2030.
“A new era is opening before the world; a new hope is being built with the advent of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he continued, stressing that the Goals should not just be a reference point to fight against poverty, but for larger-scale sustainable human development.
Human capital, both the actor and the beneficiary of the SDGs, must be at the heart of all the world’s actions. The security of peoples in all its forms — from wars, crises and insecurity — is the root cause of the systematic violations of human rights, and peace and security remained the Achilles heel of all development strategies. Because of that, his country was perusing its own path towards democracy and sustainability.
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‘The time for excuses is over,’ small island leaders tell UN, urging global action on climate change
30 September 2015 Speaking today at the United Nations General Assembly, the Prime Minister of Fiji, along with other leaders of other small island developing States, warned of the existential threat of climate change and looked forward to the possibility of consensus at the upcoming conference in Paris.
Prime Minister Mr. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama noted his nation’s recent elections and encouraging advances in economic growth, primary and secondary schooling, infrastructure, roads, water and healthcare.
He then turned his attention to the subject of climate change, noting that Pacific small island developing States (SIDS) have “a unique perspective of the world to share with the international human rights community.”
“Like our neighbours in the South Pacific and other SIDS, we see the bright future we have charted for ourselves dimmed by the prospect of climate change and sea-level rise,” he said.
Fiji has been outspoken in insisting that all nations do their duty, he said, with regard to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“It is simply not acceptable for advanced economies to build a high standard of living based on the degradation of the Earth and the seas,” he said. “The time for excuses is over.”
Mr. Bainimarama said he hoped for an acceptable outcome at the Paris climate change conference later this year, and called for an agreement of a temperature rise of not more than 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, also noting that it should be legally binding for all parties.
“We also call for the climate change adaptation measures to be 100 percent grant financed,” he added.
He said that, because of climate change, Fiji currently has plans to move 45 of its villages to higher ground, and also to settle people from other low-lying Pacific Island States.
The President also welcomed the Sustainable Development Goal on the conservation and sustainable management of the oceans.
“Our destiny is shaped by the ocean in which we are set,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President of Nauru, Baron Divavesi Waqa, highlighted the importance of the 2030 Agenda, which “places the welfare of human beings at its core and lays out a comprehensive set of goals and targets to help empower every individual to realize their full potential.”
He also spoke about the importance of the ocean as the source of almost all development possibilities for Nauru, and highlighted concerns over illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the nation’s waters, noting “if we are to be true to Agenda 2030 and the commitments made to SlDS, we must do much more to eliminate IUU fishing and ensure that the income from fishing goes to the rightful resource owners.”
Turning to the subject of climate change, Mr. Waqa called it “the largest test of our international and domestic institutions.”
“Clearly, a strong, legally binding agreement in Paris is absolutely critical, with ambitious mitigation contributions from all countries,” he said. “The agreement should be guided by a temperature goal of 1.5 degree Celsius and consistent with our vision for a safe and secure world. It must also ensure climate finance is available for adaptation, particularly for the most vulnerable countries.”
He added that he believed many major economic powers wanted to reach an agreement in the upcoming Paris climate change conference.
“However,” he continued, “I’m starting to doubt whether they are willing and able to make the fundamental changes in their political and economic systems required to achieve our ambitious goals.”
Mr. Waqa warned that intense lobbying to accept an unsatisfactory outcome had already begun, which could leave a “take-it-or-leave it deal” for climate change.
Meanwhile, the President of the Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak, addressed the General Assembly on the pressing issues of climate change and nuclear disarmament.
“The UN’s 2030 development agenda – and its Sustainable Development Goals – offers small island States a powerful tool to craft and adjust our own domestic strategies,” he said.
“In adopting the SDGs, the Marshall Islands cannot afford a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality which has too often marked past international efforts, he said.
He said he also welcomed the establishment of a comprehensive assistance program with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which will build his country’s capacity to monitor and evaluate serious issues of nuclear contamination, as well as addressing health strategies and other SDG benchmarks.
He also referred to the upcoming climate change conference in Paris.
“I am proud that climate change is now recognized by all world leaders as a reality which deserves, and is gaining, a firm and collective response. Everyone among us must act – and many, including my own nation, have already committed to emissions cuts well into tile future of 2025, of 2030 and beyond,” he said.
“A world without a true commitment, and meaningful pathway, towards decarbonization is, for us in the island nations, ultimately, no world at all,” he said.
“As a low-lying island nation, with no higher ground, climate change poses a severe threat to our very security,” he continued. “Some have said there is no more hope, and no more time. I forcefully disagree. The future of my nation – the future of our very land – is perhaps more in the hands of my fellow world leaders than it is my own.”
In his remarks, Comoros President Mr. Iklilous Dhoinine noted the need to build on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals, and endorsed the 2030 Agenda while cautioning against the misuse of sustainable resources.
Speaking on climate change, Mr. Dhoinine emphasized the importance of conserving and using the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. He also said that, in the same way, leaders should promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and forests, and combat desertification and land degradation.
He also urged efforts to build peace and accountable institutions, as well as to ensure a world without poverty and inequalities.
Mr. Dhoinine also addressed the consequences of war, which have resulted in millions being forced “to leave homelands and board makeshift boats and live in inhumane conditions,” as well as “barbarous acts perpetrated by terrorist movements.”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Meltek Sato Kilman Livtuvanu, told the Assembly that climate change continued to be a major challenge for the world and a major threat for SIDS.
Mr. Livtuvanu said “if we do not resolve this global crisis today, then we are running a risk of creating a world where there is no prospect for sustaining peace and security.”
“The linkage between Climate Change and sustainable development is clear,” said Mr. Livtuvanu. “Without addressing climate change, sustainable development for SIDs cannot be achieved.”
He outlined how, in March this year, his country experienced a category 5 tropical cyclone that affected 60 per cent of the population and 64 per cent of its economy.
“In our current assessment, it will take many years and more than USD500 million to rebuild our economy,” he added.
Mr. Livtuvanu said that Pacific island leaders continued to voice their concerns on climate change at international fora, calling for a legally binding agreement limiting global average temperature increase to well below 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi of Samoa devoted the majority of his address to the General Assembly to the issue of climate change and SDG goal 13, particularly as it pertained to small islands.
He describes climate change as “the single most urgent challenge confronting mankind,” adding that it is “facilitated largely through human-induced activities driven for the most part by profit motives, with some degree of insensitivity to the consequences of such action on others.”
He noted that climate change was also a security risk.
“For some of the low lying Pacific island countries, climate change may well lead to their eventual extinction as sovereign States,” he warned.
“Against the backdrop of the existential threat climate change poses especially to atolls and low lying islands, SIDS have long been advocating for ambitious mitigation efforts by member states with the capacity to do so, and for a global goal of limiting the rise in average global temperature to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius to prevent some of our low-lying islands from being submerged by sea level rise,” he cautioned.
He also noted the importance of the upcoming climate change conference in Paris, emphasizing that it required “a new brand of cooperation and broad outlook.”
“A durable climate change agreement in Paris is therefore a test of multinational solidarity,” he said. “Time is running out.”
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