Realities of climate challenges confronts Ministers

By Alexander Rheeney 10 September 2023, 1:01AM

The sobering reality of climate challenges threatening the existence of Pacific communities came to the fore at the 31st SPREP Meeting Environment Ministers High-Level Talanoa at Taumeasina Island Resort last Friday.

Tuvalu’s Minister for Public Utilities and Environment, Ampelosa Manoa Tehulu, also chaired the meeting and talked about the realities of the dangers facing the Pacific communities including his country.

“Every day my country is losing ground physically and literally,” he said, according to a statement issued by SPREP. “The reality is that they are talking about digital nations for our people. Can you imagine that? 

"I am sitting in this meeting thinking about this reality. We are scared but not afraid. Today, I want us to have a meaningful discussion about this reality.”

The impassioned plea from Mr. Tehulu set the scene for the Ministerial Talanoa, bringing together Pacific Environment Ministers to discuss ways to help Pacific communities survive the impact of the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. 

Samoa’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, welcomed all the Environment Ministers to Samoa and wished them well in their deliberations.

“On days like this, we must ask ourselves, why are we here?” said Toeolesulusulu. “Some of us are here to listen, some of us are here to learn, some of us are here to share, some are here to sell something but no matter what you’re here for.

"I hope that by the end of our session, and as you return to your country, you will take something back with you that will help feed your family, your village, your constituency and your country.”

Toeolesulusulu said that it’s important Ministers walk away from the Talanoa in Samoa better equipped to tell the world about “our plight, our concerns and our aspirations as Pacific people to continue to exist in our homelands.”

“We are the custodians of the biggest ocean and all that it involves but we are also amongst the most fragile and most vulnerable environments and we are here to learn and work together,” he said. “We must build better and stronger alliances to ensure our goal of a 1.5 degree world is not breached, and lead us into a future we can leave our future generations.”

He also urged the High-Level Ministerial Talanoa to be bold in amplifying the One Pacific voice on global platforms that exist to tackle the environmental challenges threatening Pacific countries.

“We need to push the bigger countries to provide the 100 billion needed to implement the Paris Agreement. We need to push the bigger economies to provide the 20 billion and the 100 billion required to implement the Global Biodiversity Framework.

“More importantly for the Pacific, we need to ensure we access these finances where they are available, and that we are able to utilise them to build our capacity, to provide the resources we need to implement the national plans that we have toiled in the last 30 years to develop.”

The 31st SPREP Meeting of Officials and associated meetings started last Monday with SPREP’s Partnership Dialogue, the 31st Meeting of Officials, and concluded with the Ministerial High-Level Talanoa on Friday. All meetings are guided by the theme: “SPREP @30th Sustainable, transformative and resilient for a Blue Pacific.”

The meeting is taking place at a time when SPREP is celebrating its 30th Anniversary with Toeolesulusulu congratulating SPREP and thanked the Secretariat for organising the meetings.

“We must address the triple planetary crisis by our own personal actions, our homes, our offices, our constituencies, and our countries. We need to start at home before we begin to tell others what they need to do.”

By Alexander Rheeney 10 September 2023, 1:01AM
Samoa Observer

Upgrade to Premium

Subscribe to
Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy unlimited access to all our articles on any device + free trial to e-Edition. You can cancel anytime.