Located on the frontlines of climate change, Pacific island nations have a crucial role to play in efforts to advance a sustainable future, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the region’s leaders as they met today at United Nations Headquarters.
“You speak for the most vulnerable. That is why I am counting on you to raise your voices to build political momentum to resolve outstanding issues,” Mr. Ban told the meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum.
“The PIF is crucial to realizing our global vision for a sustainable future.”
Mr. Ban noted that this year Member States have agreed on key global policies – on disaster risk reduction, on financing for development, and most recently on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which collectively aim to ensure the long-term well-being of the planet and its people.
“All of these will boost our work on the SAMOA Pathway for small island developing States,” he said, referring to the outcome of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), held in the Samoan capital of Apia in September 2014.
In its 124 points, the SAMOA [SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action] Pathway includes actions for categories ranging from “sustained and sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth with decent work for all” to “climate change” and “health and non-communicable diseases.”
Noting the need for action on climate change, which has a severe impact on the Pacific region, the Secretary-General said he will continue to call on major economies to raise their level of ambition. “And I will press for priority attention to the needs of small island developing States and least developed countries,” he added.
Mr. Ban recalled his visit to Samoa last year during which he visited Lepa to witness the damage from the 2009 tsunami.
“It was a powerful reminder of how badly small islands are hit by extreme weather events. And it was a sober lesson on how urgently we need to invest in climate change adaptation and mitigation.”
At the meeting, the UN chief also noted the progress made across the Pacific regarding gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“But we still have to help women who are threatened by violence. We have to do more to involve women in politics. And we have to make women’s rights a reality everywhere.”
The Forum, whose secretariat is based in Suva, Fiji, is a political grouping of 16 independent and self-governing States.