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6 - 17 November 2017  
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     Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service

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Media Release

Fiji Receives Strong Support at UN Oceans Program

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3rd December, 2011, Durban, South Africa: There was very positive and strong support for Fiji’s contribution to the Oceans Day event at Durban today as part of the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol that has been meeting in Durban, South Africa from 28th November to 9th December 2011.

Fiji’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York Mr. Luke Daunivalu addressed the Climate Change Response Expo on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (Pacific SIDS) as part of a high level panel of international experts on, “Oceans and Climate Issues in Small Island Developing States.”

In his address Mr. Daunivalu said,

“I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (Pacific SIDS) represented at the United Nations, namely Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and my own country Fiji.”

“The Pacific is the world’s largest ocean – covering over 30 percent of the earth’s surface and greater in size than all of the continents combined. It is the basis of our countries’ livelihoods, our food security and our economies; and represents a primary pathway to future sustainable economic growth.  Our sustainable development truly depends on a healthy and sustainably-managed Pacific Ocean.”

“It is for this reason that the Pacific SIDS, along with others including Australia, New Zealand and recently the Secretary-General, have called for the inclusion of the Blue Economy in the Rio plus 20 Outcome.  By doing so, we are calling for the safeguarding of a resource upon which depends our sustainable development. The ongoing debate and dialogue on how the green economy can assist in converging the different dimensions of sustainable development must include as a critical element the conservation and sustainable management of marine and ocean resources, as well as enabling SIDS to enjoy a greater share of the benefits derived from those resources.”

“The Pacific SIDS have three priority areas under the topic of the Blue Economy that we are proposing for inclusion in the Rio Outcome, namely, (1) enabling the development aspirations of SIDS in relation to the utilisation of marine and coastal resources; (2) eliminating/reducing overfishing and destructive fishing practices; and (3) addressing the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine ecosystems.”

1. Development Aspirations of Pacific Small Island Developing States
“The first priority area is enabling the development aspirations of Pacific SIDS.  Currently the Pacific SIDS do not enjoy the full economic and social benefits derived from the use of our marine living resources despite our overwhelming dependence on such resources. The sustainable development challenges of SIDS have already been well-recognised in the existing multilateral framework for both oceans and sustainable development, yet progress towards implementation of effective strategies to address them remains piecemeal, insufficiently supported and overall inadequate. The disconnect between the international instruments governing oceans on the one hand and sustainable development on the other has created barriers to the full realisation of development aspirations of SIDS and, in many instances, are a primary barrier to the achievement of national economic development goals.”

“The Pacific SIDS see the imperative for a concrete pathway for SIDS, with specific timelines, targets and milestones, to facilitate the sustainable management of ocean resources and increase the share of benefits from their utilisation, which should include enhanced direct economic participation and capacity building.  The cooperation and assistance of the international community is necessary to enable SIDS to be a model for sustainable development.  We see Rio as a key opportunity for a sea change in enhanced international support for SIDS in relation to marine and coastal resources and the realization of development aspirations.”

2. Fisheries
“One of the most serious gaps in implementation of relevant oceans outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development is in the area of fisheries. Healthy fish stocks are critical for food security and for sustaining the economic prosperity and social and cultural well being of many states. Although countries agreed in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation to restore global fish stocks to sustainable levels by 2015, stocks continue to be fished at increasingly unsustainable levels.  States should recommit at Rio to maintaining or restoring depleted fish stocks to sustainable levels by 2015 and should further commit to implementing science-based management plans for rebuilding stocks by 2015, including reducing or suspending fishing catch and effort for all stocks being over-fished or at risk of over-fishing.”

“To address these declines, more must be done to improve transparency and accountability in fishery management. The commendable efforts by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) that have undertaken independent performance reviews should be expanded and augmented through regular transparent reviews by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to bring RFMO implementation in line with international commitments. Previous UNGA reviews of the implementation of fisheries management goals, such as on the driftnet fishing moratorium and on impact assessments for bottom fisheries, have resulted in positive reforms that likely would not have occurred without UNGA oversight. UNGA reviews of RFMO performance can be expected to improve RFMO effectiveness and generate the political will necessary for them to take critical action to restore fish stocks to sustainable levels.”

“The Pacific SIDS have shown global leadership in marine conservation, for example through the creation of marine protected areas and adopting innovative solutions such as vessel day trading schemes, as well as targeted high seas closures to address sustainable fishing goals. Rio+20 should also include significant international support for the enhanced use of such innovative measures.”

3. Climate Change and Ocean Acidification
“Finally, the third priority area for the Pacific SIDS under the Blue Economy is climate change and ocean acidification. The combined impacts of climate change, namely sea-level rise, increased sea-surface temperature and intensified storm activity, along with the adverse effects of ocean acidification caused by increased absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are among the biggest threats to the health of oceans and coastal areas.”
“Coral reef ecosystems are particularly susceptible to climate change and ocean acidification, and they may be the first marine ecosystems to collapse unless mitigation and adaptation efforts are significantly increased. Urgent and deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are a global imperative.”

“Additionally, given the dangerous levels of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere and ocean, building the resilience of vulnerable marine ecosystems should feature prominently in a new action oriented sustainable development paradigm developed at Rio. This is a new and emerging issue that requires immediate attention and concrete results.  For example, international support for capacity building for developing nations to build the resilience of marine ecosystems to ocean acidification and climate change is essential to safeguard marine ecosystems. We must also enhance global monitoring and sharing of information on the impacts of ocean acidification, as well as ensure international organizations and RFMOs consider climate change and ocean acidification in oceans management decisions, including through enhanced environmental impact assessments.”

Conclusion

“In conclusion, Agenda 21 and JPOI, as well as the BPOA and MSI, provide a solid foundation to build on in relation to the conservation and sustainable management of marine and ocean resources, particularly in relation to Small Island Developing States.”

“However, for the Pacific SIDS, given our dependence on the health of marine ecosystems, urgent progress is needed to implement existing commitments, to address new and emerging issues and to solidify the nexus between oceans management and sustainable development that is lacking in the international framework.”

“A strong oceans outcome from Rio is an opportunity to demonstrate that SIDS, with the assistance of the international community can be a model of sustainable development – through the conservation of marine and coastal resources and through concerted efforts to enable SIDS to increase their share of the benefits from the utilization of marine and coastal resources.”

In her remark after the presentations, South Africa's Deputy Minister of Water and Environment Mrs. Rejoice Mabudafhasi expressed her support for the small islands developing States and encouraged us to 'keep at it until your voice is heard'.

This is the third Oceans Day at a UNFCCC Conferenceof the Parties. The Global Ocean Forum has previously organized at Copenhagen at the UNFCCC COP 15, on December 14, 2009 (first-ever Oceans Day organized at a UNFCCC COP) and at Cancun at the UNFCCC COP 16, on December 4, 2010.

The Fiji Delegation to COP17 is led by the Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment, Mrs. Taina Tagicakibau and includes the Acting Deputy Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation Mr. Penijamini Lomaloma, Ambassador Peceli Vocea Fiji’s Ambassador to the EU, Director Environment Mr. Jope Davetanivalu, Director Meteorology Mr. Alipate Waqaicelua, Deputy Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN Mr. Luke Daunivalu, Deputy Conservator of Forests Mr. Samuela Lagataki, Dr Helena des Combes of USP, Lami Town Council CEO Ms. Preeya Ieli, Ms. Alisi Pulini Climate Change Officer Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, Mr. Peter Emberson of the Pacific Council of Churchs including Fiji’s High Commissioner to South Africa Mr. Ben Salacakau.  The Minister for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment Colonel Samuela Saumatua will be joining the Delegation later when the Higher Level Sessions begin the following week.

(Photo caption: Mr. Daunivalu (2nd from left) at Oceans Day.)