Push for united coalition in climate fight

Pacific island countries need to commit to a grand coalition that includes civil society, the private sector and academia for the fight against climate change to be effective, a conference in Suva heard last week.

Addressing Pacific leaders at the Climate Action Pacific Partnership Conference talanoa session at the Great Council of Chiefs Complex in Fiji’s capital, Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations executive director Emele Duituturaga said leaders and stakeholders need to stand united against the world’s big carbon emitters.

 “We need to agree on key messages; identify our respective target audiences and develop inside/outside strategies,” she said.

“While you, as our country leaders negotiate inside, we can be amplifying the same key messages outside and in the corridors.

“We need to raise the ambition on 1.5 degrees in the Paris Agreement.”

 Ms Duituturaga said when the 1.5 stay alive campaign was launched in 2008, for the past decade, well before the Paris Agreement, Pacific civil society have been campaigning.

 “If we join forces, we would create a greater impact and wider outreach,” she told the conference.

“We would like to raise our voices louder on loss and damage, particularly focusing on operationalising the Warsaw mechanism as we head to Poland, we need to maximise our advocacy within the remaining Fiji presidency before this is handed over at COP24.”

Ms Duituturaga said the impact of climate change-induced displacement was already upon us and “there needs to be recognition that relocation, internal and external migration are adaptive measures that need attention”.

“Recognising the critical partnership with civil society actors, we encourage governments and development partners to resource the complimentary engagement and participation of CSOs in these processes and on the road to COP24.”

She commended Fiji’s talanoa modality initiative to include non-State partners at the talanoa session with Pacific leaders.

“It is historic and innovative, and provides an international normative standard. Transformation, ambition and inclusivity are the hallmark promises of the Agenda 2030 and this is the nexus with the Paris Agreement.”

Ms Duituturaga said transformation is about changing hearts and minds and “not the paper that agreements and polices are written”.

“For this reason, we couldn’t agree more with HE COP23 presidency, Prime Minister of Fiji (Voreqe Bainimarama) when he earlier stated, ‘Governments can’t meet challenges alone, hence the grand coalition with Non State Partners’.”

She also acknowledged Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga who recently hosted a CSO dialogue at the Tuvalu June Polynesian Leaders Group meeting and said they looked forward to the Nauru President hosting the CSO dialogue with PIF Leaders at the upcoming Nauru September Pacific Forum meeting.

Ms Duituturaga said the answer to concerns raised on climate change was in SDG17.

“I submit that SDG 17 is the answer – partnerships, multi-stakeholdership and inclusivity.”

She said PIANGO, as a 27-year old regional NGO umbrella platform, with a presence in 24 Pacific Island countries and territories had a rich fabric of Pacific civil society – including faith-based organisations, churches, community-based organisations, women, disability, youth and sports groups; media; human rights and advocacy networks was active in this regard and well poised to lead the campaign.

From Pacific Islands climate action network, locally-managed marine-protected areas; climate warriors to prayer warriors, she said Pacific civil society may not be visible in these spaces but “we are active at the local and global levels”.

“Civil society provides the link from corridors of power to village, amplifying what the village knows best and mobilising to influence decision makers and policy dialogue such as this,” she added.

“Civil society organisations and groups contribute to holding communities together and often become the glue community action in maximising social capital.”


Photo supplied. Caption: PIANGO executive director Emele Duituturaga with Nauru President Baron Waqa at the CAPP meeting in Suva.