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Countries must support efforts to spur implementation of voluntary commitments on SDG 14: Fiji PM

Fijian Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has called on countries to support efforts to spur implementation of the voluntary commitments on SDG 14.

Bainimarama delivered the remarks at a High Level Dialogue organised by Palau and Norway on the Oceans in New York.

The title for this event is “The Oceans – a wealth of opportunities”.

Bainimarama joined heads of states, governments, senior government officials, CSOs and NGOs and the private sector at the event where he highlighted the indivisible  linkage between SDG14 on the Ocean, and SDG13 on Climate Change.

“I’m pleased to reaffirm that Fiji will continue to be dedicated to this course, particularly after the inaugural UN Oceans Conference under my co-Presidency with the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden. Now that we are into the three-year implementation phase, I’m glad that Fiji will play a more intimate role on implementation, after the recent appointment of Ambassador Peter Thomson as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean.

“We must support efforts to spur implementation of the voluntary commitments on SDG 14. The United Nations and through the Special Envoy on Oceans will be organising a series of global webinars which will provide a virtual platform where all actors can share updates on the implementation of their voluntary commitments and share lessons learned and best practices.

“We should continue to support all laudable efforts, such as today’s event, conferences and awareness programmes to continue to elevate awareness and commitment both within and particularly beyond these walls of the UN. Last month, for example, the Pacific Island Development Forum hosted the first high-level Pacific Blue Economy Conference in Fiji as we recognise that sustainable development in the long term serves the best interests for the national economy and its citizens.

“We must also address the cross-cutting issues between oceans and other sectoral issues such as climate change, trade and other areas. The ocean-climate nexus is one that is critical in this implementation phase,” said Bainimarama.

As President of COP23 Fiji intends to play its part in bringing to the fore the core issue of this indivisible linkage between SDG14 on the Ocean, and SDG13 on Climate Change, he said.

“Our COP23 Presidency is as much about Climate Change as it is about Oceans. The impacts of climate change on oceans are experienced by all who live on islands and coastal states. Therefore addressing climate change and, a healthy ocean is necessary if we are to achieve our target of 1.5 let alone 2 degrees.

“We are working to introduce an Oceans Pathway into the COP23 that will ensure that the nexus between oceans and climate change is integrated into the UNFCC process by 2020,” he said.

The Oceans pathway will include:

• A pathway for a work programme on oceans and climate by 2019;
• The formation of an oceans and climate change coalition that will:
- Enhance the opportunity for climate change funding by enhancing the window to enable the support of healthy and resilient oceans through existing and emerging climate funds;
- Coordination for a greater emphasis on climate change and oceans on existing priorities including Sustainable Transport, Cities and Human Settlements, coastal infrastructure, ecosystems, Food Security and energy; and
- Link up with existing oceans activities and partnerships within the oceans pathway.

“This current fragmentation or disconnect between ocean and climate governance we hope to redress through the Oceans pathway I have described. As many of you have already heard, this if the fifth key priority of Fiji’s COP23 Presidency that will see the careful synergy of SDG13 on climate change and SDG14 on oceans. We must seize the 2030 Agenda opportunity that provides a universal and enhanced global partnership for sustainable development that engages all relevant stakeholders.

“I challenge all of us to seriously consider this proposal on bridging this disconnect between climate change and oceans within the UNFCCC process.

The priority presented here is not without its challenges, however, your support of this ‘oceans pathway’, Fiji believes help us better position to save the ocean for our worlds citizens and most importantly for generations to come,” said Bainimarama.

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