15 May 2019

Opening remarks at joint press encounter with Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama of Fiji

António Guterres

Thank you, your Excellency Honourable Prime Minister, for your words and especially thank you very much for the extremely warm hospitality I have been enjoying in your wonderful country.
This visit has two dimensions: the Fijian dimension and the Pacific dimension.
In the Fijian dimension it is a visit of gratitude in which I want to express how much we appreciate the extraordinary contribution of the Fijian people and the Fijian Government to all the important areas of action of the United Nations and all the important areas of international cooperation.
Fiji has been a strong and committed partner in peacekeeping. Fijian soldiers and Fijian police officers have shown enormous determination, enormous courage, and some of them, unfortunately, have lost their lives protecting the lives of vulnerable people – of women, of children – in some of the most dangerous places in the world.
There is a depth of gratitude that all of the international community in relation to Fiji that I want to express very clearly, being side by side with a former peacekeeper.
At the same time, Fijian leadership both in relation to climate change, with the Chair of the COP23, and in relation to the oceans and the need to protect our oceans that unfortunately are being undermined in so many dimensions. Through the Oceans Conference that took place in New York and Fijian leadership, through the action of my Special Envoy, Peter Thompson, who is a Fijian, and through the commitment now to the next [Ocean] Conference in Lisbon, again Fijian leadership has been an extremely important element in making sure that we are able to rally the international community to protect our oceans and to win the climate change battle.
The Prime Minister was telling me in the meeting we just had that climate change corresponds to the battle of our lives from the point of view of Fiji and the Pacific. As Secretary-General of the United Nations I have many battles, but I have no doubt to say that as a grandfather this is also the battle of my life.
It is absolutely essential that we mobilize the international community to make sure that by the end of the century temperatures will not be above 1.5 degrees what they were when this process started. It is absolutely essential for that to be possible that we reach in the world carbon neutrality in 2050. And this requires an enormous transformational effort in energy, in industry, in agriculture, in the oceans, and also an enormous commitment in finance in order to support the developing countries that not only are showing, as is the case of the Pacific, their leadership in mitigation, in reducing emissions, in adopting renewable energy for instance, but that are also on the frontline of the dramatic impact of climate change and require huge investments in adaptation that the international community needs to support.
I’ll be flying tomorrow to Tuvalu which is probably, one of the most - if not the most - impacted country in the world by climate change. I want with this visit to do everything possible to make sure that the international community is mobilized for our Summit in September and for the renewal in 2020 of the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions, the commitments made by Member States in relation to mitigation, adaptation and to finance.
We need to recognize that for the moment we’re not winning this battle. For the moment, we are not on track, not even for the commitments made in Paris to be respected. We absolutely need a much stronger political will to be able to reverse this trend and to be able to rescue our planet and there is nowhere better than in the Pacific. We feel the moral obligation to do so, to rally the international community for this objective and to thank the people and the governments of the Pacific for the extraordinary example they’re providing to all of us.