Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the pre-Conference of the Parties Dinner, in Nadi, Fiji, today:
I have been in Fiji for only a short time, but the warmth and hospitality have been so powerful that I already have a strong sense of the famous “Bula” spirit. I have no doubt that the Fijian ethos can help the presidency maintain trust with all parties and lead us to important achievements here in Fiji.
This pre-Conference of the Parties comes at a very important moment. There are a couple of thoughts and impressions that I am leaving with. I will share them with you very candidly.
First, I think we are still catching up with the Paris Agreement. The adoption and very swift ratification of the Paris Agreement has left the process behind. The agreement has laid down the pathway. From my perspective, we have to now move towards delivery. We need to think differently. My immediate impression is that we are again getting back into the negotiation mode as we were in the pre-Paris phase. Without discounting the importance of the guidelines or additional dialogues, the Agreement is there.
We need to address the real issues now. We need results. We need implementation. We need to focus on financing the nationally determined contributions. We need to bring people and all sectors together.
Make no mistake. The stakes are high for us all, including the United States and several Caribbean countries that were battered by the devastating and unprecedented Hurricanes. The world’s island nations are especially vulnerable to such extreme weather events and the impacts of climate change.
Second, what is our task? Where do we want to go? As I said earlier, we are entering a new phase in climate change. This is the phase of sustaining momentum and building ambition across the climate regime. We need ambition in adaptation, emission reduction, mobilization of finance, meeting existing commitments, transparency in action, enhancing collective climate action.
As we leave Fiji, I hope we leave with a clear political understanding on what and how we are going to move forward together. The consequences of not knowing what Bonn would look like poses a major challenge to an already complex situation.
Here in the Pacific, sea-level rise, the salinization of soils and the acidification of the ocean are greatly affecting people and livelihoods. Moreover, many of us may have travelled long distances to be here, but let us not succumb to the idea that what is happening in the Pacific islands is remote from the rest of the world’s experience.
Climate change knows no borders. This is what we must remember. What you do on one side of the world has serious effects on the other. Nor can we compartmentalize climate change from the other challenges we face. We cannot achieve our Sustainable Development Goals without addressing climate change.
We will not advance the right to health without addressing climate change, and we will not build stable societies or liveable cities without addressing climate change. Climate change is all encompassing. Climate action must be equally comprehensive.
Third, I welcome the intention of the COP23 [Twenty-third session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change] presidency to host high-level events next month in Bonn on five key areas: resilience and risk insurance, health, human rights, long-term development pathways towards 2050 and policy coherence at the United Nations itself.
These events have one common goal: to demonstrate not only the impacts of climate change, but also to draw attention to areas that might benefit from policy coherence.
Here in the Pacific, we should also highlight the strong links between climate change and the health of the world’s oceans. Our good friend and renowned Fijian Peter Thomson, now the United Nations Special Envoy for the Ocean, set in motion important work in this area at the Ocean Conference in June. Let us take this work forward together.
Finally, the Paris Agreement was a remarkable achievement — a much-needed moment of unity at a time of divisiveness in so many areas. Let us maintain that spirit here in Fiji and next month in Bonn. Let us raise ambition so that, at the Climate Summit in 2019 and during our review in 2020, we can say truthfully that we are on track. Let us find compromises today that will keep us from compromising the future.