Commending Leadership in Combating Climate Crisis, Secretary-General Implores Pacific Island Forum to ‘Raise Your Voices’ Even Louder, Impel Global Action
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks, as prepared for delivery, to a meeting with the Pacific Island Forum leaders, in New York today:
It is a pleasure to be with you again. I thank Fiji for your leadership as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Secretary-General Puna for the excellent cooperation between our two Secretariats.
This year’s General Assembly takes place amidst a world in turmoil. Crises as far as the eye can see — from climate and energy, hunger and poverty, to conflicts and war. And above all, a fear that worse is yet to come.
You know this well. You are on the front lines of climate chaos. And the same fact is true whether it is the Pacific islands, Pakistan, Horn of Africa or many other places. Those who did nothing to create this crisis are paying the highest price.
I commend the powerful, consistent and united voice of the Pacific urging climate action at a scale commensurate with the scope of the challenge. I share your concerns that we are off track from the goals of the Paris Agreement [on climate change].
At a time when we should be urgently accelerating actions, we are backtracking and finger pointing. Let me be blunt.: the world is not making enough progress. Not even close: not on emission cuts that could keep the 1.5°C degrees goal within reach; not on scaling finance for adaptation; and not on loss and damage. But, I implore you not to lose hope. Instead, I ask you to raise your voices even more loudly.
We need the strong moral voice and leadership of the Pacific to impel everyone — especially G20 [Group of 20] countries who account for 80 per cent of global emissions — to take action: phasing out fossil fuels; turbocharging a renewables revolution; meeting finance commitments in full — on the $100 billion and on collectively doubling adaptation finance to $40 billion a year; ensuring that countries that need it most have access to that finance; and scaling up finance for the burning issue of loss and damage, which is happening now.
The health of our climate is inextricably linked to the health of our oceans. We must build on the momentum from this year’s United Nations Ocean Conference to accelerate ocean action and deliver on SDG14 [Sustainable Development Goal 14]. We need tangible follow-up on commitments to expand marine protected areas and develop the “blue economy”.
But, sea-level rise is already a reality and posing severe challenges across the Pacific. I appreciate your leadership in facilitating dialogue to find solutions consistent with the legal regime established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
As the world looks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, I know that small island developing States have one of the steepest hills to climb. You are confronting years of lost tourism revenue, fractured supply chains and disrupted transport and communication. And now the food and fuel crisis aggravated by the war in Ukraine is spiralling into a global cost of living crisis.
Our response must be to unlock far greater investments in resilience and preparedness; in health and education; and in infrastructure and decent jobs. But, all of this depends on far greater access to finance. Today, developing countries — particularly small island developing States — face too many obstacles in accessing the finance they need.
Your countries must have access to effective debt relief to ensure you have the necessary fiscal space to save lives and livelihoods and invest in the future. That is also why improved eligibility for concessional finance is so important, and I appreciate the leadership of the Pacific in developing the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index.
I also welcome your recent commitment to the revitalisation of the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration. Whatever the challenge we face, there can be no successful response without increasing women’s political, social, and economic participation.
I commend your efforts to develop the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. Together, the 2050 Strategy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are our blueprints for the future we want and need. The United Nations is proud to stand with you in partnership and solidarity as we work together to make this future a reality across the Pacific and the world. Thank you.