Government of the Republic of Fiji
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service
23rd July 2012: Following successful talks in Suva this morning between the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and the visiting Chinese Minister of State Development and Reform Commission, H.E. Mr. Xie Zhenhua the two countries have agreed to increase their cooperation in the area of Climate Change.
In welcoming H.E. Mr. Zhenhua to Fiji Minister Kubuabola expressed appreciation for the visit and noted that, “climate change is a real threat to all Small island developing states (SIDS) like Fiji. With current trends of global warming, sea level rise is expected to cause existential threat not only to the economic development of SIDS but more so the survival of many of them.
In addressing climate change, the Fijian Government is taking a two track approach - we believe that it is imperative if we are to comprehensively address climate change to focus on both the current international negotiations and our national laws and policies."
Noting that climate change is a global issue and with the current status of negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Minister Kubuabola explained that, “we should be actively engaged in the current international negotiations, including through Pacific Small Islands Developing States (PSIDS) or Association of Small Island States (AOSIS). In this regard, we remain steadfast in our commitment to participate effectively in all international negotiations, including the UNFCCC with a view to finalizing a binding, robust and effective successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible.
Based on this, climate change remains a priority as the agenda of our relations and discussions with the international community. In our engagements, we believe that it is crucial that we form alliances and cooperate in areas of common interests because no country would be spared from the impacts of climate change.”
Pointing to Fiji, Minister Kubuabola explained that, “our Climate Change Unit was set up in 2009 under the Department of Environment, however, the Unit was transferred to my Ministry in 2011. In February this year, we launched our first ‘National Climate Change Policy,’ which basically provides a platform to coordinate all climate change-related activities in Fiji for all relevant stakeholders, including the civil society. Under the Policy, we have an implementing framework which outlines the various strategies and responsibilities by the different stakeholders under the eight broad objectives of the Policy.
We have also put in place appropriate mechanisms to effectively implement the Policy involving all levels of our society. We hope that soon, we will also have in place climate change laws that will legislate the various sectors and activities that contribute to the adverse impacts of climate change, and also those that contribute to mitigation and adaptation.”
On possible Fiji-China possible areas of cooperation Minister Kubuabola stated that, “From our experiences, we have learnt that our main challenge in addressing climate change is financing and capacity-building. Climate change financing is an issue that is of great importance to us. We can have policies and laws and treaties, but these would not be effective if we do not have the tools to implement them. We need finance for mitigation and adaptation activities. An issue for us is the accessibility of international funding which is always complex and bureaucratic. Apart from that, a good portion of funds allocated for developing countries are taken off by implementing agencies of these funds as administering costs.
Essentially, we would prefer funding mechanisms that are easily accessible and which are directly given to countries. We have also found that bilateral funding mechanism is the most effective. This is an area we hope China could assist us on, particularly our Climate Change Unit.
Given that climate change involves science, and analysis of scientific data is pivotal in that regard, we need more of our people to be exposed to this area through education and training. Secondly, we hope to also engage a climate change advisor within the Ministry, a scientist preferably. For this purpose, we are also looking for funding for us to be able to afford the engagement of a local scientist.”
Acknowledging that there are certain areas where China and Fiji have differing views at the current climate change negotiations Minister Kubuabola observed however that, “there are more areas where we have common views and positions. We also believe that we both recognize the urgent need to have in place a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. We look forward to building closer partnership with China in the upcoming negotiations and working on our differences so that we could deal with them amicably and advance them appropriately. It is with these areas of common interests that we wish to build on and strengthen.
Having said this, and marking this great opportunity, we wish to propose if our two countries could enter into a MOU on the areas of cooperation we could engage on relevant to climate change, particularly on the different areas we have discussed today. If this proposal is agreeable, we would be grateful to know from you how you wish to proceed with this. My officers are prepared to do whatever necessary to finalize this MOU at the earliest.”
In his response H.E. Mr. Xie noted the close political relations between the two countries and explained his hope that this can translate into the area of climate change. H.E. Mr. Xie observed that as developing countries Fiji and China are the victims of the effect of climate change and as such need to work closely together to ensure that vulnerable small island developing states like Fiji receive the assistance that has been promised to them by developed countries.
Noting that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the recently concluded Rio+20 has accepted the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities H.E. Mr. Xie called on the international community to quickly operationalize the commitments it has made in Climate negotiations since they are present jointly strictly responsible for 64% of the climate change problem. H.E. Mr. Xie stated that the international community needs to quickly inject funds into the Green Climate Fund which is supposed to have a budget of $100 billion per year.
The Fijian and Chinese sides then agreed to work together to facilitate Chinese assistance in the following areas:
1. Cooperation between vulnerable small island developing states like Fiji in Climate Change negotiations. 2. Adaptation and capacity building for Fijians in the area of climate change. 3. Fijians to attend Climate Change Training in China from this year onwards.4. Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Fiji and China in Climate Change.
H.E. Mr.Xie Zhenhua and his delegation will leave Fiji tomorrow afternoon.
[Photo caption 1; Ratu Inoke Kubuabola with H.E. Mr. XieZhenhua (3rd of right)]
Ministry of Foreign Affairs P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji