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Fiji’s role as a co-host of the first ever United Nations Conference on Oceans in June this year is the launching point of a global campaign to ‘reclaim what we’ve lost to the unchecked, destructive behavior that has devastated our oceans and seas.’
That’s the rallying call of the Pacific Island nation that is co-hosting the June conference in New York with Sweden.
Speaking in Parliament in Suva Monday, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the threat is growing and Small Island Developing States are suffering the devastation of ocean resources.
“As former naval Commander, I have witnessed first-hand how year after year plastic have accumulated in our seas and how our oceans have been steadily degraded by selfish and unscrupulous interests that rob our people of precious ocean resources.
Bainimarama said Fiji is pushing for a comprehensive review of the current state of the world’s oceans.
“We want the full, unfiltered truth revealed to the community of nations and the top technical agencies and the world’s foremost scientists will be in attendance to detail the scope of the damage our oceans have sustained.
Equipped with this knowledge, nations can then acknowledge their role in confronting this crisis.
“We are fighting to keep our oceans clean and keep our use of ocean resources sustainable and at COP23 we are working to limit the harmful emissions that are causing climate catastrophe for vulnerable nations.
“When we go to the world and fight for the preservation and sustainable use of our oceans, when we call for commitments on the part of every nation, we must do so secure in the knowledge that here at home we are also holding ourselves accountable.
Starting at home, the Fijian PM has called on all the citizens of Fiji to clean their home and streets and prevent rubbish from ending up in the ocean.
“So I say again to our people, stop rubbishing our country. Be proud, be patriotic and be protective of our natural beauty.
At the end of the three day Pacific Regional Preparatory meeting for the Oceans Conference last week, Pacific Leaders endorsed ten strategic benchmarks to be advanced in New York to secure a sustainable future for Pacific Small Island Developing States.
1) Formulate a joint declaration to work toward stronger, more efficient ocean governance;
2) Implement actions for a cleaner Pacific at all levels and call for global action to reduce plastics and all forms of pollution by 2025;
3) As part of commitment to a cleaner Pacific, we are calling on those responsible to do what is necessary to address nuclear and other contaminants, shipwrecks and other World War Two relics in our oceans;
4) Put in place a global operational observing system to prevent ocean acidification and improve ocean health;
5) To explore the feasibility of mechanisms for ‘blue’ carbon and other potential benefits that can be derived from healthy oceans;
6) Mobilise new resources and align and target existing resources to deliver integrated ocean management commitments;
7) Support holding Triennial UN Ocean Summit, supported by regional and sub-regional oceans summits until 2030;
8) Call on partners to assist us to invest in data and information systems to monitor ocean health;
9) Formalise maritime boundaries and secure rights over resources; and
10) Reaffirm the nexus between climate change and oceans and emphasise, at every opportunity, the need for all countries to meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement.
The global Oceans conference will be held at the United Nations in New York from 5-9 June this year.
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