P.M. calls for global climate action at U.N.

By Marc Membrere 28 September 2020, 6:00AM

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, addressed the United General Assembly on Saturday and issued an impassioned plea for more climate action from larger nations. 

Tuilaepa spoke via videolink at the General Debate of the 75th Session of the General Assembly. 

Despite the world currently being defined by border closures, Tuilaepa said in his address that climate change’s impact would not respect boundaries.  

"Tsunamis, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding, deadly bushfires, heatwaves, and droughts continue to take and devastate countless lives,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the increasing number of catastrophic climate change-related events world over are proof to the pressing need to reduce emissions.

"Climate procrastination must end now before the window closes on any chance for us to stabilise the Earth’s climate," he said.

The Prime Minister noted  events such as Glasgow Climate Change Conference (C.O.P. 26)  and the UN 2020 Ocean Conference have been postponed but ambitions to achieve change should not be. 

"We need to uphold the Paris Agreements Commitments and maintain the needed momentum on ambitious climate action,” he said.

“The United Nations remains the best hope to provide the political will and the necessary commitment to avoid what is an existential threat for many small states of this U.N. family. 

"We must mobilise all leaders from Governments, N.G.O.s, [the] private sector and empower our youth and rural communities to fight the ongoing threat of climate change and unite against environmental degradation.

“The 75th anniversary of the U.N. should be a point of hope for generations to come rather than an end due to a legacy of selfishness, denial and ignorance."

(The world’s preeminent multilateral organisation is marking its 75th anniversary this year). 

During his address, Tuilaepa said the General Assembly Session this year was a unique moment in history.

"We are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, and our General Assembly is meeting virtually for the first time ever,” he said.

“But unprecedented times call for innovative solutions so that as leaders we remain connected and united in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and our desire for a secure and peaceful world."

Tuilaepa stated this year's General Debate was time to reaffirm member states’ commitment to multilateralism to shape the future we want and the United Nations we need.

“Samoa has continued to participate and contribute actively to the global effort to address challenges affecting the development, security and human rights pillars of the United Nations,” he said.

He said Samoa was forced due to the COVID-19 pandemic to make the hard decision to close its international border and that the uncertainties the pandemic had brought had tested the mettle of Governments unlike any event in recent history.  

"Samoa extends its sincere condolences to our U.N. family for the lives lost due to the pandemic and pays tribute to the selfless service of all the frontline workers risking their lives to bring COVID-19 under control,” he said.

"While Samoa remains COVID free, we have not been spared the serious and life-changing impacts on our nation and people who are still recovering from the devastation of the [...] 2019 Measles outbreak that claimed more than 80 young lives."

Tuilaepa stated that the experience tested Samoa’s resolve as a nation but also strengthened its unity and partnerships. 

The Prime Minister said that COVID-19 was another example of the way in which international connectedness required global solidarity.

"We acknowledge the ongoing support of the U.N. and all our development partners who [have] continued to assist our efforts to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic," he said.

“We are hopeful for the successful development of a vaccine and its equal and even distribution. Let us all spread kindness faster than the virus and not hate, fear, and misinformation."

This year, Samoa had hosted the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child which Tuilaepa said was a milestone event consistent with Samoa’s ongoing efforts to improve and strengthen engagement internationally. 

"It also ensured the effective and active participation and engagement of the Pacific people, especially [its] children on the convention and the work of the committee,” he said.

Tuilaepa was joined by other Pacific Island leaders who called for quicker transitions to clean energy solutions. 

By Marc Membrere 28 September 2020, 6:00AM

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