Activities of Secretary-General in Fiji, 14-18 May

31 May 2019

Activities of Secretary-General in Fiji, 14-18 May

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Suva, Fiji, from New Zealand, in the early evening of Tuesday, 14 May.

Upon arrival, he met with the United Nations country team and had a question-and-answer session with them.  He later met with the heads of the United Nations agencies in the region and had dinner with them.

On Wednesday, the Secretary-General attended a traditional welcome ceremony in his honour, which took place at the Grand Pacific Hotel.

He later went to the Pacific Islands Forum secretariat where he delivered remarks to the opening session of the Forum.  (See Press Release SG/SM/19579.) After the session he also gave concluding remarks.  (See Press Release SG/SM/19580.)

He told Pacific leaders that he was there to see the region’s climate pressures first-hand and to learn about the work being undertaken by communities there to bolster resilience.  He said:  “I know that Pacific island communities have been responding actively to today’s hardships and tomorrow’s dangers.  You are drawing on a long history of adaptation and traditional ecological knowledge.”

This was followed by a press conference with the Pacific Islands Forum troika made up of the President of Nauru, Baron Divavesi Waqa; the Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi; and the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sosene Sopoaga, as well as with the Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General held bilateral meetings with various leaders of the region.  These included:  Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi of Samoa; President Tommy Esang Remengesau, Jr., of Palau; President Hilda C. Heine of the Marshall Islands; President Taneti Maamau of Kiribati; Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands; and President Édouard Fritch of French Polynesia.

The next day, the Secretary-General made a courtesy call to the President of Fiji, Jioji Konousi Konrote, at the State House.  While there, he planted a tree with the President.

He later met with the Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, which was followed by a brief media encounter.  The Secretary-General said he had no doubt that climate change is the battle of his life.  He stressed that we must recognize that this battle has not been won yet and we need a much stronger political will to be able to be able to rescue our planet.  He thanked the people and the Governments of the Pacific for the extraordinary example they are providing to all of us.

That morning, the Secretary-General addressed the Fijian Parliament.  He told members of the Parliament that he saluted their strong traditions of community and social responsibility and that their symbiotic relationship with their surroundings make them natural global leaders on climate and the environment. See Press Release SG/SM/19582.

Following his speech, he had tea with members of Parliament.

He then visited the National War Memorial where he laid a wreath to honour the fallen peacekeepers of the Pacific region.

Following that he took part in a photo shoot for Time Magazine at his hotel.

In the early afternoon, the Secretary-General set sail on the traditional Fiji Boat Uto Ni Yalo, and following the 20-minute boat excursion, he met with a young Fijian climate activist and together they were filmed as part of a virtual reality project organized by the United Nations Department of Global Communications.

In the evening, the Secretary-General visited the University of the South Pacific where he met with young people and women’s groups who are taking climate action.  The Secretary-General heard about their work and told them that the world needs their generation to keep his generation accountable.

Later on, the Secretary-General visited a student exhibit where young people showed what they’re doing to tackle climate change.

In the early evening, the Secretary-General attended a reception and dinner hosted by Prime Minister Bainimarama.

On Friday, 17 May, the Secretary-General flew to Tuvalu.

Back in Fiji some hours later, the Secretary-General had a private dinner followed by a live interview with BBC World Service radio.

The Secretary-General departed Fiji to Vanuatu on Saturday, 18 May.

For information media. Not an official record.