Fijian PM calls on world leaders for global solidarity and urgency

Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama. Picture: FIJI GOVERNMENT

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says climate change and the coronavirus may be very different beasts but the inequities they have exposed are all-too-familiar for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

In his virtual address at the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations yesterday, Mr Bainimarama called for solidarity, commitment and urgency in rebuilding the global economy suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastations caused by climate change.

He shared Fiji’s progress efforts in tackling two crises – the containment of COVID-19 and the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Harold.

“Our disaster authorities and health officials sprang into action, taking every step in-line with everything the experts could tell us about how to stop the spread of this highly contagious virus, and we saved lives from TC Harold’s devastation, even evacuating entire communities, all without allowing a single new case in relation to the storm,” Mr Bainimarama said.

He said the island nation was proud to mark 150 days of zero community transmission as a result of those concerted national action.

But while Fiji has contained the coronavirus, he said they had not yet been spared its economic devastation.

“Yet despite a catastrophic blow to Government revenues, we are committed to rebuilding from Cyclone Harold and building resilience to future storms and the rising sea,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“We must continue charting our path towards net-zero emissions and the aim of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

“These are not choices, they are matters of survival. The worst impacts have fallen on us and once again, our fate rests in the collective hands of the world, yet we still have zero guarantee of equitable access to a viable vaccine.

“Indeed, the divide between the highly-developed and developing worlds has never felt so stark but the UN Charter supplies us hope, as has the ferocious advocacy and leadership.”

In reaffirming Fiji’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, Mr Bainimarama outlined Fiji’s economic recovery plans and actions taken to protect the safety and well-being of the Fijian families and building resilient societies.

“Our recovery from this pandemic must mark a transition to a decarbonised, climate-resilient economic system.”

The PM said Fijians still looked to the UN as a beacon for hope, a force for peace and an anchor of stability.

“Fiji stands ready to serve our community of nations in every way we can, by way of peacekeeping, by way of our international climate and oceans diplomacy, and by example, through the nation we build for ourselves.”

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