Fiji Time: 11:22 AM on Wednesday 21 March

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Leaders pay tribute to victims

Shayal Devi
Wednesday, February 21, 2018

GLOBAL leaders present at the 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers at Sheraton Resort Fiji in Denarau, paid tribute to the 44 lives lost during Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.

Yesterday was the second anniversary, since the Category 5 storm tore a path of destruction through parts of Fiji and left lasting memories on communities.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark commended Fiji for leading the charge in climate change awareness and advocacy on the world stage in the wake of one of the most fiercest storms to have made landfall in history.

"I do pay tribute to those who lost their lives in terrible Cyclone Winston, we observe this very sad anniversary today (yesterday), and also acknowledge the severe impact of Cyclone Gita.

"The people of Small Island Developing States are very resilient. They have, after all, lived with very large weather events throughout history but climate change has become what we call an existential threat because it's raising the level of threat from storm and seawater inundation and that will mean building higher levels of resilience than ever before."

She said even if the full ambition of the Paris Climate Agreement was realised, the world would face worsening weather for decades to come.

"The need for solidarity with the most vulnerable nations is very great, support for adaptation and support for recovery from terrible and powerful storms."

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