A regional meeting of Pacific island countries is underway in Apia, discussing the implications, obligations and, opportunities for the implementation, of the Paris Agreement.
Hailed as a historical milestone, the Paris Agreement was adopted at the end of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP21) in France last year.
The High Level Support Mechanism Meeting for Pacific Small Island Developing States was opened on Tuesday in Samoa. The outcomes will be a well-informed and prepared Pacific region to meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement.
The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius about pre-industrial levels.
The Pacific islands are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change with varying impacts felt by different islands across the region.
Leading up to the Paris Agreement messages were loud and clear that if global temperatures rise above 1.5C, the Pacific islands would not survive.
"The time for talking and rhetoric is now over, the time for action is now," said Leota Kosi Latu, Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P).
"What is important for us now is to look at implementation issues, what do we need to do next? This is the time to flesh out and unpack the decisions in the Paris Agreement and map out the next steps for us in the Pacific."
Siaosi Sovaleni, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga opened the High Level event.
"The Pacific has shown our strength in our combined efforts, in working together leading up to and at COP 21," he said.
"I urge you again to continue that and to make the most of the opportunities presented by the Paris Agreement. To make this most of this regionalism through sharing experiences, exploiting synergies, improving coordination, and forming partnerships but with implementation focusing on our national priorities."
Now adopted, the Paris Agreement will be open for signing on 22 April this year at the United Nations in New York. It will come into full legal force and effect when at least 55 Parties to the UNFCCC that accounts for at least 55 percent of the total global greenhouse emissions at 2010 levels have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.
To date, Fiji, Nauru, Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands have these in place, ready for ratification upon signing.
The H.L.S.M underway this week will also help the region be well informed and prepared for the next steps associated with implementation, including signature and ratification.
The three day event which ends today is coordinated by Climate Analytics and Charles and Associates in partnership with SPREP under the High Level Support Mechanism Project funded by the German Government Federal Ministry of Environment and Buildings (BMUB) and its International Climate Initiative.