COP23: Fiji PM highlights trauma intensity of disasters

Update: 4:58PM WITH all the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston last year, Fiji’s main tourism areas were spared but it still caused damage equivalent to 30 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Prime Minister and COP23 president Voreqe Bainimarama highlighted the intensity of the trauma caused by Winston while speaking at the COP side event on ‘Risk Informing Development: A Revolution in Adapting to Climate Change in the Pacific’ in Bonn, Germany today.

Mr Bainimarama drew out a contrasting image of what could have been had the intensity of climate change that was presently being faced by Pacific islanders, been the matter for more developed nations.

“Friends, when a hurricane hits Scotland, can we really be in any doubt about the gravity of climate change? Of any of the changes that are occurring all around us for that matter, whether they are extreme weather events like storms, floods, and droughts; ice melting in both polar regions, wildfires in various parts of the world, acidity in our oceans and the bleaching of our reefs, or the changes in temperature that threaten our agriculture and food security,” he said.

“This is the level of risk we now face in Fiji along with every vulnerable nation. That an extreme weather event striking our entire nation could cause destruction on an epic scale.

“And, of course, we have recently witnessed the suffering of hurricane victims in the Caribbean and the southern United States. Plus the astonishing spectacle of Hurricane Ophelia slamming into Ireland and Scotland soon afterward.”

He said the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston made him more determined to help his people back on their feet and sharpened his determination to make Fiji more climate resilient. 

“To secure the finance and access to affordable insurance, we need to be able to adapt to the frightening new era that is upon us,” said Mr Bainimarama.

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