Pacific Leaders endorse Boe Declaration, maintain strong language on climate change

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden affixes the imprint of her palm on cement on the beautiful Western Bay area, overlooking the sea in Boe District, as their endorsement of the new regional security agreement - the Boe Declaration at the Pacific Island Forum leaders meeting in Nauru. Picture: MAKERETA KOMAI/Facebook

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Nauru

YAREN, 06 SEPTEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS) – The Pacific’s new security agreement, now called the Boe Declaration endorsed by Forum Leaders in Nauru Wednesday, has expanded the concept of security to include human security, humanitarian assistance, environmental security and regional co-operation.

“These are new emerging issues since the last Biketawa Declaration in 2000 and we’ve tried to include them in the new Boe Declaration, said President Baron Waqa of Nauru.

The biggest victory for Pacific Island nations is the declaration is the ‘reaffirmation by Member Countries, including Australia and New Zealand that climate change remains the greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.’

“Some of these issues regarding climate change are contentious and individual countries have their own policies. I am glad that we can push hard enough to make sure that we reflect our concerns in the strong language and we are happy that we’ve asserted that. He confirmed all member countries wanted to keep the concerns of the Pacific about climate change in the Boe Declaration.

“Everyone wanted to keep the language strong in the Boe Declaration.

The theme of this year’s Forum kept reminding us that we need to be strong. It’s our will and it’s what we want, President Waqa explained to journalists late Wednesday night.

That call was supported by Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga, the host of next year’s Pacific Islands Forum.

“It has been a tradition to just note simply but this time we have appealed to Forum Leaders to endorse it so that we can walk the talk. “I am very happy that the language has moved to further strengthen the call by Pacific Island Countries that climate change is the single greatest threat to the livelihoods of Pacific Island peoples. We are not simply calling but urging all major emitters to immediately implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in accordance with the Paris Agreement, said PM Sopoaga.

He urged major emitters to step up for more robust, ambitious as possible and comprehensive NDCS to the COP24 in Poland in December this year.

“The main point there is to reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius. We now have the draft report of the IPCC on 1.5 degrees Celsius. If that cap is not going to be reached, there is going to be serious problems for countries like Tuvalu, probably going down by 2030.

“2030 is not far away because while our grandchildren will still be growing up, part of our islands, Kiribati and may be Nauru will be submerged based on those predictions.

That is why we are urging the international communities to urgently implement your NDCs so we can get more emission reductions, said the Tuvalu leader. He said the issue is serious for Smaller Island Nations of the Forum because it’s a matter of survival for them.

“We cannot go on being complacent sitting here in the name of consensus waiting for others to downgrade the importance of doing that. We need to continue to push on, using the Boe Declaration, not only at the Forum but COP24 to situate it there.

Pacific Leaders have also requested the United Nations Secretary General to appoint a Special Adviser on climate change and security. They’ve also asked the IN to appoint a special rapporteur to produce regular review of global, regional and national security threats caused by climate change.

“We want to raise the level of importance we place on climate change to the United Nations because we feel it is not getting that recognition. This representative will be able to utilise the experiences of our nations in the Pacific and provide a pathway to the highest level in the hope that our issues are addressed at the highest level of the UN, explained President Waqa.

Marise Payne, Australia’s new Foreign Affairs Minister said her government supports the Boe Declaration particularly supporting the Pacific on issues around transnational crimes and cyber security.

“The biggest thing in the Boe Declaration is that it is a regional security declaration and that all the member countries who have joined understand that climate change is a priority issue for Pacific countries. As well as initiatives related to climate change we also discussed at great length issues around regional security like transnational crime and this is related to the work of the Pacific Maritime Security Programme that we are assisting Forum Island countries. Transnational crimes can manifest itself in many ways and they are the emerging threats.

“What the declaration enables us to do to be flexible and responsive to those threats and to identify them as come upon us. It also mentions specifically cyber security and we know that cyber security is key for the safety and integrity of nations, their systems and their commercial activities that can be vulnerable from threats from people, Minister Payne told PACNEWS while launching the new fisheries surveillance aircraft for the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) launched in Nauru Wednesday.

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders later affixed the imprint of their palm on cement on the beautiful Western Bay area, overlooking the sea in Boe District, as their endorsement of the new regional security agreement. Leaders have tasked the Forum Secretariat in Suva to draw up an Implementation Plan to support the new regional security declaration, by November 2018.



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