Pacific Island Leaders, UN Secretary-General Urge Increased Climate Action
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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The UN Secretary-General stressed climate change as his priority during a meeting with leaders from the PIF, and said he will work to ensure that countries enhance their climate ambitions over the next two years.

PIF leaders called for the appointment of a Special Adviser on Climate Change and Security.

PIF leaders presented the first ‘Quadrennial Pacific Sustainable Development Report,’ which highlights the region’s progress and challenges in achieving sustainable development and the SDGs through a ‘Blue Pacific’ approach.

28 September 2018: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Pacific island leaders that climate change is his “absolute priority” during a meeting with leaders from the Pacific Island Forum (PIF). The meeting took place during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly 73rd session (UNGA 73).

The meeting between PIF leaders and the UN Secretary-General convened at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 28 September. It followed the PIF’s annual Summit, which took place from 3-6 September in Nauru. At the Summit, leaders reaffirmed that climate change “remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.”

PIF Chair, President of Nauru Baron Waqa, presented the region’s priorities to the UN Secretary-General during the meeting. He highlighted addressing climate change and disaster risk management (DRM), ensuring increased benefits from the region’s fisheries and enhancing regional security as key priorities, and underscored the PIF’s commitment to deliver an “inclusive, prosperous and peaceful place for its people.” PIF leaders called for the appointment of a Special Adviser on Climate Change and Security.

The PIF defines security as “human security, humanitarian assistance, prioritizing environmental security and regional cooperation in building resilience to disasters and climate change.”

In his remarks, Guterres observed that Pacific islands are on “the front line” of climate change. He recognized that climate change is also a security issue, and welcomed the PIF’s expanded concept of security for the Pacific region, which includes climate change. The PIF Summit’s Boe Declaration defines the organization’s concept of security as “human security, humanitarian assistance, prioritizing environmental security and regional cooperation in building resilience to disasters and climate change.”

Guterres further welcomed PIF leaders’ regional approach to the implementation of and follow-up on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SAMOA Pathway. The Secretary-General also addressed, inter alia: the graduation criteria from least developed country (LDC) status; gender empowerment; and UN reform. He expressed his commitment to work with Pacific island leaders towards a safer, more secure and prosperous future for the Pacific people.

On climate change, the Secretary-General stressed that his central concern is to ensure that countries enhance their ambitions over the next two years. He cautioned that the world is “going too slow” to meet commitments made under the Paris Agreement on climate change, and called for urgently increasing action and ambition on climate change, including at the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference and the 2019 Climate Summit. Guterres acknowledged the contribution of Pacific countries in taking decisive climate action and implementing the Paris Agreement, and said a top priority will be to reduce the vulnerability of small island developing States (SIDS).

On oceans and the blue economy, PIF leaders presented the first ‘Quadrennial Pacific Sustainable Development Report,’ which highlights the region’s progress and challenges in achieving sustainable development and the SDGs through a ‘Blue Pacific’ approach. PIF leaders called for the UN to support the region in advancing the Blue Pacific narrative. [UN News Story] [UN Meeting Coverage] [PIF Secretariat News Story] [UN Secretary-General Statement]


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