Bainimarama said his experience at ADSW was “rewarding” and his interaction with youngsters gave him hope about the future.
As Fiji faces bad impacts of climate change in the form of natural calamities and lands being inundated by rising water levels, the Pacific island nation plans to build a globally applicable solution with UAE’s support.
“We are very keen to relocate climate-vulnerable communities; by building out a body of knowledge and experiences in relocating vulnerable people, we create models that can be applied globally, and we are keen to work with the UAE in this regard,” the Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told the Emirates News Agency, Wam.
“Fiji and the UAE share a close partnership, and we have been grateful for the UAE’s assistance to affected Fijian communities in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston in 2016,” he added in an exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi.
The ravages of climate change will force communities around the world to escape to more habitable regions, he pointed out.
An Oceanian island nation in the South Pacific Ocean with an area of 18,274 square kilometres and a population of over 900,000, Fiji lies about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand.
A global leader in the fight against climate change who also presided over the UN’s leading climate change body, COP23, in 2017, Bainimarama revealed that climate talks with some world leaders in international forums had often been frustrating.
“All too often in the climate change space, we see international negotiations bogged down by bureaucracy and technicalities,” he said.
“It is frustrating to attend these conferences and try to compel those high-emitting countries who are largely responsible for global temperature rise to act.
“Their economies are more insulated from climate change than small islands, developing states such as Fiji, so they are entering these negotiations from a place of privilege. We don’t have that luxury in the Pacific.
“On the world stage, what we see over the next 50 years will depend entirely on the ambition of global climate action over the next decade.
“In November, at COP26 [the UN’s leading climate change body meeting], the industrialised nations of the world must come with stronger commitments to slash emissions, or else the world of 2070 will be unrecognisable to the planet we know today,” he added.
As part of the global efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, every nation can and must do more, the prime minister emphasised. “At the moment, our collective climate action plans are wildly off-track from the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree target.”
Bainimarama said his experience at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, ADSW, where he was a prominent guest and speaker alongside many other world leaders, was “rewarding” and his interaction with youngsters gave him hope about the future.
“My experience has been very rewarding; it has been valuable and encouraging to see what a historically oil-dependent country like the UAE is doing to secure a more sustainable future. If you can do it, other fossil fuel producing nations certainly have no excuse,” he noted.
“I have also particularly enjoyed hearing from our young people; their passion and their innovative thinking has given me great hope for humankind’s ability to turn the tides against climate change.”
As Fiji is celebrating 50 years of Independence, the prime minister believes that the Fijian Constitution, introduced in 2013, is one of the nation’s most enduring achievements since independence.
“Because it finally establishes the common and equal citizenry the Fijian people have yearned for decades. Under our constitution, every Fijian is guaranteed a vast range of civil, political and socioeconomic rights, as well as equal votes of equal value in a genuine democracy, undoing an unjust, ethnically-weighted electoral system,” he explained.
“Looking forward to the next Fijian half-century, Fiji aims to lead by example in marrying sustainability with prosperity for our people.”
Talking about Fiji’s ambitious target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, he said, “Fiji has a clear strategy laying out how we plan to halve our emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century. While our own emissions are negligible, we are prepared to set an example for larger economies to follow.”
Fiji has banned single-use plastics, with a ban on Styrofoam (a kind of expanded polystyrene used especially for making food containers) coming next year.
“We are exploring a game-changing Pacific-wide partnership to decarbonise shipping networks. We are pursuing innovative nature-based solutions that lower emissions and help adapt communities to climate impacts,” he said.
As part of involving the people in the path toward carbon neutrality, Fiji will table an “innovative” climate change law in parliament to create the collaborative environment necessary to implement the commitments under the Paris Agreement, the prime minister concluded.
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