Fifty days and counting down towards the UNFCCC COP28 in Dubai, Pacific Small Islands States (PSIDS) have been urged to stand united and leave no stone unturned as they gather in Samoa for an in-depth dialogue to consolidate positions and messages on priority thematic areas ahead of the global negotiations from Thursday 30 November 2023 – Tuesday 12 December 2023.

Leaders and officials from PSIDS, countries who continue to be at the forefront of climate change impacts, will join more than 70,000 delegates at COP28, which will mark the first Global Stocktake (GST) of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Each stocktake happens every five years, with the aim of assessing the world’s collective progress towards achieving its climate goals.

The reality of the challenges faced by small countries with regards to achieving climate goals was not lost on officials at the PSIDS Preparatory Meeting for the UNFCCC COP28 in Samoa. In the face of an escalating climate crisis, Pacific leaders have continued to advocate for much stronger global ambition to keep 1.5 alive, a robust GST to bring “course correction”, the phasing out of fossil fuels and for financial mechanisms to better respond to the needs of Pacific communities.

PSIDS Chair and Palau’s representative, Xavier Matsutaro, said the meeting in Apia is a chance to ensure “we leave no stone unturned” in our efforts incorporate the views and needs of Pacific countries in the COP28 decisions.

“Heading into Dubai a lot of ground must be covered. We must embrace the challenge of pushing our negotiating partners to accelerate action on mitigation, complete the work on the Global Goal for Adaptation (GGA), operationalise the loss and damage fund and conclude the first GST,” he said.

“By no means this will be an easy task, as we will continue to encounter the same challenges we faced in the lead up to and during COP27 and will likely have to navigate our way through a whole host of challenges. But I look forward to making use of this meeting to mobilise our expert negotiators to discuss, reflect and share ideas on how to chart the path towards Dubai and to lay the platform for our Ministers, Political Climate Champions and Leaders to advance our priorities.”

Photo: SPREP

The Chair of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) Samoa, represented by Anne Rasmussen, called for improved coordination and more cohesiveness around the messaging and action from Pacific countries. At the heart of the work done by AOSIS is the understanding that SIDS share a very special set of circumstances, despite broad ranging cultural backgrounds.

“The recognition of the special circumstances of SIDS in the face of development challenges unifies us and provides the rationale for the Alliance of Small Island States to act on behalf of all SIDS,” she said. “It is this unity that has allowed us to continually ‘punch above our weight’ across the years, and the ability of AOSIS members to see past their regional differences and find the all-important commonalities among us, has been our strength and will continue to be.

“So, I urge you during this important preparatory session to both consider your uniqueness as Pacific Island nations and work hard to defend that, but understand that in doing so, you are part of a larger family of island countries that have similar needs and priorities and that we stand strongest together.”

SPREP’s Director General, Sefanaia Nawadra acknowledged the Government of Palau as PSIDS Chair, Samoa as AOSIS Chair, the Climate Analytics team and the One CROP team, saying their work is critical in enhancing the effective engagement of the Pacific SIDS a COP28.

“The next few days again presents us with the opportunity to further hone and fine tune our collective positions and priorities in preparation for COP28. In addition, this meeting also provides us the opportunity in further ensuring that both our Pacific Political Champions together with our technical negotiators are well informed and technically equipped with the requisite knowledge and tools to seamlessly navigate throughout COP28,” said Nawadra.

“This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon that we need to continue to work at. We need to pick our fights and be smart in how we engage to get the best outcomes for our Pacific communities that we serve. Let us not waiver in our efforts but find strength through unity to drive forward the momentum for enhancing the resilience of our people, strengthening the resilience of our region, and in doing so lead in saving the world.”

The PSIDS Preparatory Meeting for the UNFCCC COP28 was held from 10-13 October 2023 and opened with a reminder from Reverend Faasalafa Tasi Vitaoa about the need for everyone to be good stewards of God’s creation.

The 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP28) will be held in Dubai, UAE, from Thursday 30 November 2023 – Tuesday 12 December 2023.

The Pacific Small Islands Developing States (PSIDS) Preparatory Meeting for the UNFCCC COP28 being held from 10-13 October 2023 in Apia Samoa is funded by the Government of Australia. Facilitated by SPREP, this is also supported by the Government of New Zealand.