Cook Islands PM repeats calls for international recognition of climate

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The Cook Islands Prime Minister is calling on the international finance community to recognise the debt small island states are taking on for climate adaptation and mitigation.

Mark Brown said because the world’s largest emitters refuse to phase out coal and because COP26 failed to deliver any positive climate finance outcomes, countries like his have to dig deep into their own pockets to prepare themselves for the impact of climate change.

Brown said as the Cook Islands is classed as a middle income country, it does not have access to the climate support accorded to low income countries.

And he said all this is on top of the economic strain countries are already facing because of the pandemic.

“So for us the inevitability of opening up is there before us. It’s either opening up by choice or opening up by necessity.

And we’ve looked at 13 January our time which is 14 January in New Zealand as the date when we will allow passengers back into the country,” the prime minister said.

Meanwhile, the Cook Islands prime minister said preparations to welcome travellers from New Zealand in the New Year are well underway.

Quarantine-free travel between the two countries is scheduled to reopen on 14 January.

Mark Brown said on the New Zealand end travellers have to be double vaxxed and show proof of a negative covid test before departure.

And in the Cook Islands Brown said a lot of work has gone into achieving 98 percent Covid-19 vaccination coverage with health authorities looking to roll out booster shots when they become available in February or March.

The Cook Islands is also working to attract tourism workers ahead of the reopening of the travel bubble with New Zealand next year because a labour shortage within the tourism industry is a concern.

Brown said prior to the pandemic the Cook Islands had been able to hire internationally from places like the Phillipines and Fiji.

“But we are working on some solutions to try and address those issues, to try and attract workers who have gone to New Zealand to be able to come back and work here.

But we will also be looking at opportunities for specialised flights maybe to Fiji to try and recruit workers to be able to come and work in the industry here,” he said.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS