Page 8 - Respond 2018 Magazine
P. 8


       From Fiji to Bonn,

       we are all in the same canoe

       As the first Pacific island president of a UN climate summit, I will draw on the spirit of
       talanoa to build a safe climate for our shared prosperity

       Frank Bainimarama, prime minister of Fiji

       It is clear that global warming changes our very     We need to learn from each other and to use the world’s
       understanding of what our national interests are. It   considerable resources to do the most good for the most
       challenges us to understand that the only way for every   people. We need to continue to create prosperity and to
       nation to put itself first is to lock arms with all other nations   ensure the well-being of the nations and ecosystems of the
       and go forward together.                             world. If we view this as some sort of negotiation in which
                                                            each country tries to preserve its narrow national interests,
       Anything else is self-destructive—for the world and for each   we will all lose. We will be powerless to protect our own
       nation. It may be tempting for political leaders to show that   people from the consequences of climate change. Collective
       they are protecting some national industry or near-term   action is the only way forward. Wise men and women will
       economic goal, but at what cost? The wise leader must work   understand that.
       hard to convince the people to embrace the path we know
       we must take.                                        That is why I took on the role of COP President, why I
                                                            eagerly embrace becoming the first Pacific Islander to do so.
       There is no choice to be made between prosperity and a   Because it is about ensuring that my own people flourish
       healthy climate. For how prosperous can we be if we must   and prosper now and into the future. And by collaborating
       devote our resources to relocating entire populations or   with the other nations of the world through this process, we
       reinforcing major cities? What does it cost to find new places   ensure that together, humanity can flourish and prosper.
       to farm? And what about the consequences for global and
       regional security if nations begin to compete for safe land or   Our presidency would not be possible without the wonderful
       have conflicts over the movements of climate refugees? It is   assistance of Germany. We have forged a bond with
       obvious that we need to cooperate.                   Germany that is an example to the world of how countries at
                                                            opposite ends of the earth and of vastly different means and
                                                            size can work effectively towards a common goal.

                                                            Fiji is deeply conscious that governments alone cannot
                                                            meet this challenge. Which is why we are placing
                                                            such emphasis on the notion of a grand coalition of
                                                            governments at every level, civil society, the private sector
                                                            and ordinary citizens moving this agenda forward. I am
                                                            reaching out to governors, mayors, leaders of every sort
                                                            across our societies. People of faith. People on the front
                                                            line of the climate struggle. Women. And the young people
                                                            who represent our future.

                                                            We are going to do things in Bonn differently. The formal
                                                            proceedings will be led by our chief negotiator, Ambassador
                                                            Nazhat Shameem Khan, and I will play a roving role. I will be
                                                            on hand to resolve any difficulties in the formal negotiations.
                                                            But to reflect the importance of our grand coalition, I will
                                                            be travelling between the two zones in Bonn - the formal
                                                            negotiations and the climate action zone - with my good
                                                            friend, our climate champion, Inia Seruiratu, and my fellow
                                                            Pacific leaders. I am counting on them to help me get the
                                                            message across that only by working together can we move
       The drua is a traditional Fijian ocean-going canoe.
       Photo credit:                 this process forward further and faster.
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