Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama urged participants at the Presidencies Talanoa Dialogue in Bonn, Germany, to motivate their ministers to participate and come prepared for a conversation about ambition.
“Because ambition is what we need most of all,” he said.
He said they would not have another opportunity for such an exercise for another five years and by then it might already be too late.
The stories and inputs that they had shared, and would share together with the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 Degrees – would form the primary basis of the synthesis report of the preparatory phase.
“It will contain key messages on the questions of where are we, where do we want to go, and how do we get there, to be brought to the attention of Ministers,” Mr Bainimarama said.
He said it was therefore important that in the next few months they reflect on the kind of conversation they expect their Mmnister to be engaged in, as well as what issues they should be addressing.
Mr Bainimarama said as he toured the areas in Fiji that were struck by back-to-back cyclones within the space of eight days, he had become used to surveying the devastation of these extreme weather events, and trying to find the right words to comfort those of my people who have lost loved ones, or their homes, possessions or businesses.
Fiji he said was still rebuilding after it was struck by the 300 kilometre-per-hour winds in that event of Cyclone Winston, a Category 5 storm that was the biggest ever to make landfall in the Southern Hemisphere.
“44 of our loved ones died.”
However, he said they were now in a frightening new era in which these cyclones were becoming almost a yearly event, and even a Category 1 cyclone was capable of killing the people and causing massive destruction to the infrastructure.
“Sometime it isn’t the force of the winds, but the torrential rain that accompanies these events that is the killer.”
He said Fiji lost eight people in Josie even though it was a Category 1 and the torrential downpour flooded several of the main towns.
To alleviate the suffering of the Fijians Government formulated the CARE for Fiji Programme, which was formulated in record time after Josie.
“The Fiji CARE initiative is a co-ordinated response across the whole of Government to provide funds and other support for those in need in the affected areas and is already making a huge difference.”
“But what do I say to those who are being pounded by these events time and again?”
He said that was why he eagerly embraced the Presidency of COP23.
“Because without an effective global response to climate change, the truth is that my people have little hope other than looking to my Government to do what we can to build our resilience on the ground.”
He took the job to make a difference because our lives and livelihoods depend on it.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with participants during the Presidencies Talanoa Dialogue in Bonn, Germany. Photo: DEPTFO News