H.E. Mr. Frederick Vaka’uta Sevele, Prime Minister
26 September 2008
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FELETI VAKA’UTA SEVELE, Prime Minister of Tonga, said that, while some progress had been made globally in poverty reduction, its sustainability had been challenged by several factors, including the rising cost of energy and food, as well as the availability of financial resources.
He said hardship and poverty were now becoming issues of serious concern for his country, since external influences were changing people’s attitudes and aspirations, thereby straining the traditional Tongan social system in which everyone’s needs were met by the community as a whole. Population growth, changes in lifestyle and the gradual breakdown of the traditional social and family systems had contributed to those increased hardships.
Calling the theme of the sixty-third session, “the impact of the global food crisis on poverty and hunger in the world”, most timely, he urged everyone to look upon those crises as a unique chance to redouble efforts and refocus on policy actions that would help boost agricultural production in order to build greater self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
On climate change, he said the leaders of the Pacific Island Forum countries had endorsed, for the first time, a regional declaration on that matter, duly recognizing the serious current impacts and growing threat posed by climate change to economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being, as well as the security of Pacific island countries. To that end, Tonga welcomed the resources and technical assistance that would become available from initiatives such as Japan’s “Cool Earth” Promotion Programme, the European Union’s Global Climate Change Alliance, Australia’s climate adaptation programme for the Pacific and the increase in New Zealand’s financial support for climate adaptation.