Address at the opening of the SIDS Parliamentary Group Meeting

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Parliamentary Group (PG) Meeting on the Margins of the 148th IPU Assembly – Geneva, Switzerland

  • Honourable Speakers
  • Honourable Members of Parliament
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure and honour to welcome you all to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting here in Geneva.

Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you the SIDS-PG member countries for unanimously electing the Hon. Inia Seruiratu as the Chairperson for the SIDS Parliamentary Group during the 147th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in Luanda, Angola last year. This election comes with a great responsibility in advocating the critical challenges we face as SIDS namely issues relating to climate change, oceans and sustainable development.

As alluded to in our national statement, the challenges faced by SIDS due to our vulnerabilities to climate change and sea level rise are not subsiding. The long-term temperature goal of 1.5 degrees benchmark agreed to in Paris in 2015 at COP21 remains elusive. Its adverse impacts are real and devastating in our respective island nations. Tropical cyclones are irregularly occurring with rising intensities. Tropic Cyclone Winston was the strongest Category 5 cyclone to make landfall in the Southern Hemisphere and it hit Fiji on 20 February 2016. Its devastations were huge, with 44 lives lost, and with most infrastructure damaged. This state of play was worsened by subsequent Tropical Cyclones to date.

Attributed in the main to rising temperatures, our communities are threatened with relocations due to sea level rise and saltwater intrusions into our arable farming lands. We have identified 42 villages to be relocated. Our oceans are warming and affected with high levels of coral bleaching which are killing our marine ecosystems.  Both these ocean related issues affects our long-term food and nutritional security.

Honourable Speakers and Honourable Members, what I am sharing with you are not something new to you and I am sure these are already evident in your respective island nations.

I am therefore confident that we can work together in collaboration to galvanise our concerted efforts and support our respective national Governments in advocating the global process, from our vantage positions as Parliamentarians, the critical importance of effectively tackling the scourge of climate change in our respective jurisdictions.

Furthermore, as the SAMOA Pathway comes to end, the SIDS must take stock of the achievement and the challenges we faced in terms of our sustainable development aspirations. With the lessons learnt over the course of the last 10 years, we all need to come together, bind, and agree on a new agenda to be deliberated upon in Antigua and Barbuda in May.

An Agenda which must be action-and-results-oriented, to enable us to achieve the 17 SDGs and “Leave No One Behind” by 2030, and moreover accelerate our collaborative efforts on climate action.

Whilst we will be pressed against time in our meeting today, I remain fervent that as a unified group, we will ensure that our meeting and dialogue will be fruitful with the adoption of our Outcome Document and Way Forward Plan to formally establish our Parliamentary Group within the IPU.

Thank you and Vinaka vakalevu!