Pacific island climate change negotiators have come together in a virtual forum to analyse the decisions and outcomes of the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP25) held in Madrid, Spain in December 2019, as well as to take stock of work that has to be done by the region as a consequence of those outcomes. 

The meeting is expected to provide updates on climate change developments from other international meetings since COP25, provide negotiators with briefings on the state of play of the UNFCCC negotiations, as well as providing an opportunity to discuss Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) positions on key issues, to name a few. 

It brings together close to 130 participants from the Pacific and includes speakers from the Caribbean, Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, London, New York and Norway. 

Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) of the Government of Samoa, Ulu Bismarck Crawley, opened the virtual meeting by highlighting the vulnerabilities of Pacific SIDS to climate change, and also the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has brought about restrictions and limitations that have presented to the world the stark reality of just how vulnerable we are and how this vulnerability is rapidly exacerbated when the issue is not dealt with immediately,” Ulu said. 

“This has also been the reality with climate issues and our vulnerability as small island developing states. 2020 has presented us with the stark reality of how vulnerable we are. Facing multiple challenges such as the climate crisis and the global pandemic, with little resources to respond in an effective manner, reiterates our vulnerability as small islands,” he added. 

He stressed that the common goals and priorities to which the Pacific as SIDS have been mandated to convey at the highest level by their constituencies must continue. 

“Our survival is dependent on our fortitude, our tenacity, our resilience, and through genuine partnership,” he concluded. 

SPREP Director General, Mr Kosi Latu, stated that the Secretariat is extremely conscious of the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic and recognise the impacts it has had globally, regionally, and nationally, particularly those which have led to the cancellation and postponement of multiple fora considered crucial for engaging and advocating the Pacific’s shared priorities as SIDS

“Yet in spite of the inconveniences and constraints brought about by COVID-19, we remain diligent in our sustained efforts to advance the momentum of work already progressed, and which is further evidenced by this virtual Post-COP25 Analysis meeting,” Mr Latu said. 

Speaking via live video link from Fiji, Ms Makereta Konrote, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Economy and Chair of Pacific SIDS in the climate change negotiations, said that the current chaotic global situation is a glimpse into the future of what the world could be if we fail to achieve the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement and chart a course towards a net-zero future by 2050. 

“The road to COP26 is playing out to be one of the trickiest and most important yet since COP21 in Paris. We, along with the UK Presidency, have our work cut out,” she said. 

“While this COP26 has been deferred to November 2021 due to COVID-19, the global community must not delay the necessary climate action required of us in 2020. We need to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and purse efforts to achieve 1.5°C, as Pacific SIDS countries have consistently advocated for.”

She also reiterated Ulu’s call for the need to work in partnership, stating that “We must press ahead with renewed partnership, collaboration and cooperation.”

The Post-COP25 Analysis workshop and training is being convened by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) with the support of the  Intra-ACP GCCA+ Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) project, across six different Pacific time zones for three days. 

For more information, please contact Mr Espen Ronneberg, SPREP Climate Change Adviser at [email protected]