Support for Reducing Climate Vulnerability of Small Island Developing States Will Remain Top Priority, Secretary-General Tells Pacific Forum Leaders

SG/SM/18718-ENV/DEV/1812
22 September 2017

Support for Reducing Climate Vulnerability of Small Island Developing States Will Remain Top Priority, Secretary-General Tells Pacific Forum Leaders

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks, as prepared for delivery, at a meeting with Pacific Island Forum leaders, in New York today:

Thank you very much, Prime Minister Tuilaepa, for convening this annual meeting and for your leadership as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum.  I thank Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum, for her contribution to creating a strong partnership between our two organizations.  And I thank you all for making such long journeys to be here at the United Nations.

The issues of the Pacific, and the transition from the Oceans Conference to COP 23 [Twenty-third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] in Bonn in November, are a high priority for the entire United Nations system.  I commend your deliberations on rethinking your regional security framework to go beyond defence and legislation, taking in new issues with security implications such as human trafficking and illegal fishing.

I reaffirm our commitment to support your efforts towards building resilient communities and societies based on the strong cultures unique to the Pacific.  Pacific Islands are on the front line of climate change, which is an existential issue for some of your countries.

I will convene a climate summit in 2019 in New York.  Between now and then, stepping up efforts to reduce the vulnerability of small island States will be a top priority.  The most critical measure of success of the implementation of the Paris Agreement will be its impact on small islands, especially in the Pacific.

Moral leadership from small islands was a major factor in the rapid ratification of the Paris Agreement.  I urge similar leadership on ratification of the Kigali amendment by November 2017.  This could make a significant contribution to limiting the global temperature increase.

Small island developing States have an important leadership role in all our deliberations and processes related to oceans.  I commend the leadership of Fiji during the June Ocean Conference.  We will continue to support small island developing States as they build capacity to benefit from the sustainable development of the oceans and seas, including through partnership and multi-stakeholder initiatives.

I hope the former President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Peter Thomson, will succeed in generating visibility and support for the sustainable development of ocean resources in his new role as Special Envoy.

The United Nations fully supports Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s leadership in taking peacebuilding priorities forward in the Solomon Islands, following the departure of the successful Regional Assistance Mission.  I hope that joining forces with the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and continued support from the Peacebuilding Fund will help consolidate the gains made so far.

I encourage you to involve women and young people at every stage of peacebuilding.  Their leadership can help create lasting peace and pave the way for sustainable development.

I congratulate the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government for progress made jointly on implementing the Bougainville Peace Agreement.  As the referendum is approaching, I encourage all parties to maintain the momentum and the strong partnerships so that it takes place in calm and peaceful conditions.  The United Nations is committed to supporting this process.

I commend the leaders taking action to tackle gender-based violence in the Pacific, to strengthen women’s political and economic participation and to implement women’s rights, and I urge you to redouble your efforts.  Your leadership, particularly to end gender-based discrimination and violence, can make a genuine difference to the lives of millions of women and girls.

I have set out an ambitious reform agenda for the United Nations system, encompassing changes to the peace and security architecture, the United Nations development system, and management.  These reforms should make the United Nations a more effective partner for regional organizations including the Pacific Islands Forum.  I urge you to engage in this process and to give it your support.

Your resolve to advance your regional vision and common interests has amplified your voice and leverage within the United Nations.  As we count on you to engage and support us on United Nations reforms and other matters, you can count on us to vigorously pursue with Member States full implementation of the Paris Agreement, and to raise our ambitions to tackle climate change even higher.

For information media. Not an official record.