Fiji commits to preserving our oceans and combatting climate change

Fiji, like many other Small Island Developing States (SIDS), faces disproportionate vulnerabilities stemming from its geography and dependence on the ocean for its sustenance and livelihoods.

But rather than succumb to the challenges, Fiji has chosen to lead with resilience, innovation, and an unyielding commitment to preserving our oceans and combating climate change.

These were the comments by the Speaker of the Fijian Parliament, Hon. Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu during the 3rd Pacific Islands Parliaments Group (PIPG) currently underway in the Kingdom of Tonga.

He highlighted that Fiji’s National Ocean Policy is a prime example of the nation’s dedication to sustainable ocean management.

“Fiji is designating 30% of its marine space as protected areas, working towards sustainable management of 100% of its Exclusive Economic Zone, and fostering community engagement.”

“Through this effort, Fiji hopes to not only safeguard its marine biodiversity but also nurture a model that can be followed by others seeking to harmonise ocean health and climate resilience.”

The Hon. Speaker pointed out that after developing the policy and its supporting legal mechanism, Fiji has now begun to implement certain elements of this critical document.

“Together with development partners, academia and non-government organisations, Fiji is taking a holistic approach towards realising its ocean conservation targets.”

“We have begun work on fisheries characterisation, the development of a blue economy prospectus and marine spatial planning in a bid to ensure that our leaders are guided by the best possible and available science being researched and developed by local experts thus also ensuring that local knowledge and information is retained in the country.”

“The work that Fiji is undertaking in the ocean-climate change nexus is not just a local endeavour; it is a universal lesson in the determination, cooperation, and the understanding that our fates are intricately woven together. As we stand at a crossroads in our history, with the window to address climate change rapidly narrowing, we must draw inspiration from Fiji’s example,” Hon. Speaker added.

The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Inia Seruiratu during an intervention, urged Members of Parliament to be consistent in their messaging at all the international meetings.

“I know our leaders are going to COP28, Inter-Parliamentary Union and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meetings, we need to take strong messages to these forums, particularly given our vulnerability and how climate change affects us.”

The Chair of the Conference, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Lord Fakafanua agreed with Hon. Seruiratu on the importance of making the Pacific voices heard at the international forums.

The programme for Day One ended with the signing of the stature by two new members of the PIPG – Australia and Tuvalu.