British MP visits Fiji

Minister for Intrastructure, Transport, Disaster Management and Meteorological Services Jone Usamate (2nd from right) with United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Asia and Pacific Heather Wheeler, British High Commission to Fiji Melanie Hopkins (right) and Turaga Ni Koro Semi Mana pose for a photo with the children during the UK ministers visit to the Island off the coast of Lautoka yesterday. Picture: REINAL CHAND

VIO Island residents in Lautoka were visited by UK Minister for Asia and the Pacific (Parliamentary under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) and the Pacific Heather Wheeler on her first official visit to the Pacific.

Ms Wheeler was on her way to Tuvalu for the Pacific Islands Forum regional meeting when she made the pit stop in Fiji.

She said renewable energy was a key part of the solution to climate change.

“That is why I was keen to visit Vio,” she told Vio residents yesterday.

“I know that you have waited a long time for electricity but with your clean solar energy you are now global trendsetters.

“All of us who have been lucky enough to have electricity for some time are going to be following in your footsteps and switching to renewable sources.

“I am proud that the UK funding has helped to bring clean energy to Vio via the Fiji Rural Electrification Trust Fund.

“Life here may be different in many ways from where I live in South Derbyshire in the heart of England but I know from my conversations with people there and elsewhere that essentially we all have the same concerns and the same needs.

“We want happy, healthy and fulfilled lives for ourselves and our families and we want to ensure a secure and prosperous future for our children and grandchildren. That is why it is important not only to have access to electricity in order to cook, study and access the internet but also to ensure that the electricity we use is clean, affordable and renewable.”

She said the UK was a global leader in taking action on climate change.

“We are proud to work with the Fiji Government, which is also placing a greater focus on these vital issues including by leading the Action Group on Ocean and Climate Change of the Commonwealth Blue Charter and by working to eradicate plastics.”

She added she was looking forward to explore how the UK could work with Pacific Island leaders both to tackle the effects the global community was facing and to limit further global warming.

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