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Opinion: The Blue Pacific is running out of time for action on climate change

This week, Pacific Island Forum leaders welcomed António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, to the Pacific region to witness the reality of climate change. This is their official statement.]

Pacific Island Forum leaders meet with the United Nations Secretary General at the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji. Credit: Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
Pacific Island Forum leaders meet with the United Nations Secretary General at the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji. Credit: Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum warmly welcome the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, to our Blue Pacific region—to witness the everyday reality of climate change and drive momentum in the lead up to his Climate Action Summit in September.

As we approach the 25th iteration of the Conference of the Parties, it is difficult to find new words, new anecdotes, new experiences to press our Blue Pacific message—but our commitment to multilateralism is unwavering, as is our commitment to continue the fight for a safer climate for a safer world.

‘Climate change is the single greatest threat to our Blue Pacific region.’

At the Climate Action Summit [to held by the UN in September 2019], platitudes and repackaged commitments cannot be the substance of our deliberations. We need transformational change at scale, and courageous leaders prepared to deliver on it.

Leaders of the Pacific commit to doing all we can to make the Climate Action Summit a global turning point for ambitious climate change action.

The Blue Pacific—our great ocean continent, our thousands of islands, our strong and resilient people—is running out of time.

We need to act now. Our survival, and that of this great Blue Pacific continent depend on it.

Climate change is the single greatest threat to our Blue Pacific region.

All countries, with no caveats, must agree to take decisive and transformative action to reduce global emissions, and ensure at scale mitigation and adaption support for those countries that need it.

If we do not, we will lose. We will lose our homes, our ways of life, our well-being and our livelihoods. We know this because we are experiencing loss already.

We have talked and debated about the science for years. Now we find there is no doubt. We are facing an unprecedented global catastrophe for our beautiful Blue Planet.

We must change this course. Limiting warming to below 1.5°C (2.7°F) remains feasible and the only viable path. We urge all parties, at all levels, to act now. Our actions must be swift and they must be ambitious.

As one Blue Pacific, we are—and will continue—to take decisive action.

We enacted the Boe Declaration to put climate change at the forefront of our collective security action. We have driven global advocacy on climate change and set ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions. We have taken a world-leading integrated approach to tackling climate change and disaster risks through our Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific.

‘Sea level rise in Tuvalu is sea level rise in New York, though one might go under before the other.’

After meeting today, we will return to our island homes. Some of us will find our villages inundated by waves and our homes and public infrastructure wrecked by cyclones. Our coral reefs are dying, our food is disappearing, and we fear for the safety of our loved ones, who are being injured and even killed by some of the most ferocious of cyclones and other extreme weather events ever witnessed in our region.

The multilateral concurrence of targets and commitments is not enough. Multilateralism must be effective, and we must do better at orientating our collective efforts towards action at all levels – international, regional, national and local.

Let us together seize the opportunity of the UNSG’s Climate Action Summit to make the changes we need to reverse climate change.

To the major polluters—our today in the Pacific is undoubtedly your tomorrow.

Sea level rise in Tuvalu is sea level rise in New York, though one might go under before the other.

Climate change impacts will undermine—and potentially reverse—economic development, create instability and conflict, and threaten lives all over the globe. No one country or individual will be spared.

We urge all world leaders to listen and to act.

Act for all of us.

Act for our children and their children.

Act for our future.

Let us come together to save our Blue Planet,

The Pacific Island Forum Leaders


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