Fiji PM says climate change war will continue, over 40 communities at risk of being erased


More than 40 communities in Fiji are at risk of being erased by the rising seas, says Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Prime Minister Bainimarama said the banks of Fiji’s 45 rivers are breaking on a near-monthly basis under the strain of persistently record-breaking rains.

Bainimarama while at the opening of the Blackrock Camp in Nadi said Fiji has been faced with 14 tropical cyclones for the last six years.

“In every disaster of every nature, it is you that Fiji calls upon first. You are the world’s most battle-tested veterans in the climate war upon us,” he said.

“The climate war will not be won with guns, ammo, and artillery. It will be won with seawalls, resilient infrastructure, and cutting-edge technology. It will be won with knowledge.

“It will be won with knowledge of building practices, disaster management, and mitigative measures we can take to cushion the blow of storms and other severe weather.

“Also through facilities such as Blackrock where we will elevate training, preparedness, and response capabilities for both traditional conflict and humanitarian disasters to a world-leading level,” he said.

He said the Republic of Fiji Military Forces engineering corps have built homes, schools, medical facilities, and other infrastructure.

“There is more it can do and, indeed, must do. Your Force is reconfiguring its capacity around engineering and humanitarian and disaster response skillsets to make it the premier climate response force in the world,” he said.

“From this operational hub and with the training this camp provides, your troops will belong in every disaster-related deployment in the region.

“Whether they are super-storms in Vanuatu, bushfires or floods in Australia, volcanic eruptions in Tonga, or social upheavals in the Solomon Islands and Bougainville you are who the Pacific calls upon.

“You are called upon because no matter how trying the circumstances, our neighbours know that you will not fail them; they trust you will stay with them through to the other side,” Bainimarama said.

He said Fiji will be ready for future disasters as officers of Fiji Military Forces will be trained how to tackle them.

Bainimarama also reaffirmed Fiji’s opposition to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

He said the Pacific is united in condemning the invasion at the floor of the UN General Assembly.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Minister for International Development Zed Seselja says coercion, disinformation and foreign interference are on the rise in the regional countries.

During the opening of the Blackrock Camp, Seselja said no one wants to see regional countries undermined or destabilised.

He said this was why Australia was working with Fiji and other Pacific partners to build sovereign resilience and support the rule of law in our region.

“Through collaboration on humanitarian responses and coordination on international diplomacy and protection of human rights,” he said.

“Also, through military-to-military cooperation, such as the facility we are launching today. I want this facility to stand as a symbol of the values we share.

“Values such as transparency, respect, and freedom. These complement the Australia Defence Forces’ long-held values of Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice.

“These are values we have seen rise to the surface in Fiji’s support to Australia. Our shared values are vital to protecting the international rules-based order, under which our nations enjoy the sovereignty to choose our own paths.

He said they believe in these values for their intrinsic merit but also for their ability to deliver better lives for our people.