7 May 2015

Samoa was at the head of the table at the recent Oceania 21 Summit in New Caledonia, resulting in the Lifou Declaration that calls upon the international community to save Oceania in the face of climate change.

Tofa Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa chaired the third Oceania 21 Summit which brought together 17 Pacific island countries and territories, development partners and regional agencies.  The three day meeting worked towards strengthening a Pacific voice as the world prepares for a global climate change agreement in Paris at the end of this year

In his opening statement the Hon. Deputy Prime Minister highlighted the importance of recognising clear linkages in the outcomes of separate and distinct events leading towards sustainable development, being held in our region and also in the international arena.  Some of these include the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Small Islands Developing States Conference and the Oceania 21 in New Caledonia.

“We sat at the table and heard the voices of all the territories including Wallis and Futuna, Tokelau, French Polynesia and New Caledonia – coming together as Oceania to raise our collective voice through the Lifou Declaration on climate change,” he said.

Paris, France is the host of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December this year.  It is here that a new global climate change agreement will be signed off to limit global warming.

The Lifou Declaration, in line with the SAMOA Pathway, calls for an international revolution in the way the world deals with climate change at COP 21, urging for stronger action from the global community to help mitigate and address climate change stating that the current actions are inadequate.

For the Pacific islands who are at the frontlines of the impacts of climate change, the outcomes of this new global climate change agreement is crucial for the livelihoods and way of life for many Pacific islanders.

“The threat posed by climate change to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) cannot be under-scored. It will continue to undermine the ability of all countries, in particular Small Island States, to achieve sustainable development, and threaten the viability and survival of nations,” presented the Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe.

Despite the Pacific islands region contributing to less than 0.03% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, but being amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, many of the Pacific island nations are working towards lowering this amount even further.

“Samoa like other SIDS is doing its part to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through its low carbon pathway actions and implementation of renewable energy projects, adopting energy efficient practices, and continuing to put in place measures to enhance the resilience of communities,” said Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe.

The Oceania 21 Summit was held from 28 – 30 April, covering a range of topics including a special one day forum on Cyclone Pam and forecast climatic events in the face of climate change.  The final day was a special Leaders retreat resulting in the agreement of the Lifou Declaration

Samoa was represented at the Oceania 21 with a delegation lead by the Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe along with official support from Anne Rasmussen the Assistant CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

During the closing ceremony the Chairmanship of the Oceania 21 Summit was handed over to the Government of Nauru, former Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.  The theme of the next Oceania 21 Summit for 2016 will be finalised next year.

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