Dialogue is merely an important staging post on the journey toward decisive action.
This is part of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s welcoming remarks at the 6th Dialogue on Action for Climate Change Empowerment at the World Conference Centre in Bonn, Germany.
“It is by telling our stories, and listening to the stories of others, that we can learn how to tackle the climate challenge more effectively,” he said.
He said these exchanges between countries, states and regions, civil society, the private sector and ordinary men and women had the power to inspire action. Mr Bainimarama said they could inspire other people with their enthusiasm and ideas, and in turn could be inspired by them. By bringing their minds and experiences together, he said they could step up the ambitious action that each and every one on planet earth must take to preserve their common future.
“So, friends, talk, listen and inspire. Bring to this discussion – just as we brought to the Talanoa Dialogue on Sunday – your best ideas about how working together as one world, one people, we can set ourselves on a new course.
“Meaningful, decisive and sustainable action that really makes a difference.”
He said, inspired by enlightened leadership, this journey begins at the grassroots in all of our societies.
The Fijian people he said did not need lessons about the impacts of climate change – “we have had back-to-back tropical cyclones in the past month that killed eight of our people, left many more homeless, and damaged our infrastructure and economy.”
Fijians, he said, knew about the climate threat because they are on the frontline.
But like people the world over, he said the Fijian people still needed to understand the reasons for what was happening – the reasons for their distress – and to understand what they can do in their daily lives to alleviate the impacts of climate change.
“So we have Climate Week in Fiji in which we educate our people about the impacts of climate change and what they can do about it themselves – whether it is to plant more trees or mangroves, turn off their lights when they leave a room, or the simple act of walking instead of taking the bus.
“What I find troubling is the lack of awareness that is continually emerging in opinion polls in developed countries. It is undoubtedly part of the reason that the political response in some places to the need for climate action isn’t as great as it should be.”
He said they needed to mobilise people the world over and that was what this session was all about – “action for climate empowerment – how we can raise public awareness, public participation, and public access to information.”
In Fiji, he said they were empowering young people and women to spread the information.
“50 per cent of Fijians are under the age of 27. And like young people the world over, our young people are powerful agents for change.