The Pacific region’s chief advocate of regionalism has told a Pacific Parliamentarians meeting in Tonga of 2050 vision for the Forum, and called for the annual global climate negotiations to deliver urgent action and ambition to address the climate crisis.

A day after delivering opening remarks in Suva at a joint UNFCCC-Fiji Government climate meeting supported by the Pacific Island Forum and other regional agencies, Forum SG Henry Puna was sharing the message on the urgency of getting back on track with the 1.5 trajectory under the Paris Agreement.

“I note that the theme for this conference is from Impacts and Science to Action. It is timely because the time for action is urgent, and we need it to happen now,” he told Pacific MPs in his keynote address on Tuesday, “We need a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific, related to the need to limit temperature warning to below 1.5 degrees celsius, we need to call on Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, to finalise negotiations on the New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate finance, we need for COP28 to deliver on the establishment of a Loss and damage financing mechanism, and we need to use scientific evidence and Pacific-specific climate data,” said SG Puna.

Held at the Fa’onelua Convention Centre, Nuku’alofa, Tonga, the event was attended by Crown Prince Tupouto’a, Lord Fakafanua, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga, and speakers and MPs from across the region.

Calling for political support for the Pacific 2050 Strategy, he shared on the role of political will and leadership within the Strategy. The strategy will be the cornerstone of regional aspirations, requiring “political leadership at the highest levels” said SG Puna.

He said all branches of the State– the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary – will collectively play a critical role in the success of the 2050 Strategy and its Implementation Plan being finalised for consideration by Forum Leaders when they gather in the Cook Islands in November.

“We will not achieve our desired outcomes without a whole of government approach,” he said of the strategy.

SG Puna also shared the importance of elected leaders in shaping the region’s future.

“In the Pacific, the Chamber is a constant visible reminder of where we have been, and where we are going. Indeed for many of us our colonial historyand for some of us — our colonial-present, has laid the foundations of nationhood, sovereignty, and state building,” he said in his keynote, “while we are a region deeply steeped and connected to our historical roots, our culture, and our traditions, we also embrace the contemporary world that has prevailed before us, and we continue to find our way reconciling western principles of democracy with our Pacific values.”

The Secretary General also paid respect condolences to the people of Hawaii, who are reeling from one of the deadliest wildfires seen in our Pacific region.

“As Tonga would know only too well from the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcanic eruption – we as a region are well aware of the brutal devastation that natural disasters are capable of, so we too carry the pain of the people of Hawaii in our hearts, and we will continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers,” said SG Puna.