Editorial comment – Our focus, our challenge

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres officiates at the laying of the wreath ceremony while Private Sulueti Patricia looks on, at the National War Memorial Site in Nasese on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

IT is interesting that United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says there is a “dangerous” upsurge in hatred and has called on Fijian parliamentarians to scale up their response to hate speech.

Mr Guterres visited the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, the scenes of two horrific terrorist attacks against Muslims before arriving in Fiji this week.

More than 40 lives were lost in both attacks.

Around the world, he said, there was obviously a rising anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim rhetoric, the persecution of Christians and other forms of xenophobia against migrants and refugees and racism.

We must all show solidarity in response to this dangerous upsurge in hatred, he said, and scale up our response to the hate speech which is coarsening our public dialogue in many countries and regions of the world.

Mr Guterres said the Fijian example of tolerance was a very important example today.

He said the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals were the UN’s blueprint for a fair globalisation built on prosperous, peaceful and resilient societies on a healthy planet.

Education, healthcare, decent jobs and economic opportunities, respect for human rights and the rule of law, gender equality, diversity and inclusion, fundamental freedoms and democratic values, he said, were the keys to sustainable growth, peace and prosperity. The message was clear for us all yesterday.

Mr Guterres also spoke on climate change. It seems it is a subject that tugs at the heart strings for him.

We are not on track, he said, even to reach what was agreed in Paris.

While addressing youths at an interactive session at the University of the South Pacific in Suva yesterday, Mr Guterres said climate change was running faster than “what we are” and what was happening in the world was worse than the most dramatic predictions that were made.

Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reached an agreement at the COP21 in Paris, France in 2015 to combat climate change and accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.

“Things are getting worse as expected, but the political will has been fading. In Paris we set a goal. What was agreed in Paris beyond that was just the different commitments made by the different countries. Based on the commitments made in Paris we would reach more than 3 degrees at the end of the century, so we need stronger commitments,” Mr Guterres said.

“And worse than that is the commitment is not being met. We are not on track even to reach what was agreed in Paris. As we are not on track, we need a transformational change.”

Mr Guterres’ visit has obviously shifted the focus of the world to our tiny nation.

It has shifted global views our way and perceptions focused on our tiny nation.

Our challenge is how we plan to create the level of awareness that is important for us to develop as a nation, and push our agenda.

Climate change is serious business for many countries in our region. For once we have the attention of the world.

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