Oceans virtual conference underway

The 2020 Pacific Ocean Pacific Climate Change Conference was officially opened by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi on Tuesday.

The virtual conference will attract close to 200 participants which included the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape.

A media release issued by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme [S.P.R.E.P.] states that this year’s conference is the third iteration of the biennially convened conference and the first to be held virtually.

It is hosted by the Government of Samoa in collaboration with the National University of Samoa, S.P.R.E.P and the Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington.

The conference will be held over the course of four days under the theme “Blue Pacific, Climate Action for Climate Resilience” and will feature multiple presentations and panel discussions on the science, impacts, and solutions to climate change in the Pacific. 

In his opening address, Tuilaepa said while many borders remain closed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, climate change respects no borders and the devastation continues. 

"We cannot ignore nor delay actions that threaten our livelihoods and the very existence of some of our Pacific islands," he said.

"The solutions do not lie with a handful of people. It requires a sector-wide and whole of society approach.

"Thus, I am pleased to note the diverse backgrounds and expertise that will gather virtually this week from across the Pacific and the world."

Tuilaepa added that the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit will soon meet to discuss regional priorities, the highest of which are COVID-19, climate change and oceans. 

The solutions and outcomes from the conference will help the Blue Pacific to pursue its vision of a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity, so that all Pacific people can lead free, healthy, and productive lives.

"This is not possible if we do not address the adverse impacts of climate change and reverse the cycle of decline it has on our greatest resource, our ocean," Tuilaepa added.

Mr Marape stated in his opening address that climate change is real and is a threat to all of us.

"It is a serious concern to me and to us all. I am pleased to note that the theme of this conference is ‘Blue Pacific, Climate Action for Climate Resilience’ as it reaffirms the 50th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders statement encapsulated in the Kainaki II declaration which I believe was our strongest statement recognising climate change as an imminent threat facing our Blue Pacific region."

The conference participants joined the virtual opening ceremony on Tuesday will kick off what is promising to be productive four days of discussion, with various climate change experts, academics and professionals expected to speak throughout the week.

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