The first Archipelagic Island States (AIS) Forum High Level Meeting (HLM) has concluded at the Bali International Convention Centre, in Bali, Indonesia.

Fiji’s delegation was led by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications Manoa Kamikamica.

In his contribution to the meeting, DPM Kamikamica highlighted the enormous challenges Fiji faces as Small Island Developing States in the wake of rising climate adversities.

“Climate change remains the most existential threat to our long-term security and sustainable development that is linked to rise in sea levels, loss of biodiversity, extreme weather events and outbreaks of diseases for our archipelagic and island states”, stressed the Deputy Prime Minister.

Furthermore, he highlighted that the “effects of climate-related multiple-crises over the past decades have left trails of severe disruptions to our livelihoods and regresses our individual and collective capabilities to respond to these challenges effectively for our long-term sustainable development”.

Formally established through the adoption of the Manado Joint Declaration in 2018, the AIS Forum – a platform for archipelagic and island states discussed strategies such as the utilisation of ocean resources for sustainable economic growth, climate change resiliency, ocean pollution, emergency management, and the enhancement of sustainable fisheries towards addressing sustainable development issues.

Members collectively agreed to strengthen their commitments and actions to accelerate concrete collaboration on climate change mitigation and adaptation, the advancement of the Blue Economy, marine plastic debris and good maritime governance.

Built from the outcomes of the 7th Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) held in Suva city in June 2023, and the 8th meeting held in Antananarivo city, Madagascar, a call on the urgency for strong and collaborative actions within AIS Forum member countries through innovation and blue economy was made. Strong emphasis to the spirit of solidarity, commitment and collaboration as the basis of future cooperative work were strongly emphasised.

Similar sentiments were delivered by the Assistant Minister for the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Sakiusa Tubuna, during the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the AIS Forum held prior to the HLM, on the need for extensive collaborations with various stakeholders that should. be community driven and people centred so as to enhance resilience, strengthen preparedness and improve responsiveness in our capacity to sustainably manage the persistent challenges of climate change in our time.

Leaders further endorsed the strength of partnerships and collaborations as highly vital in times of crisis among governments, communities, civil society, private sector entities, and development partners. Fiji thus highlighted the importance of on-going dialogue and commitment towards strategic partnerships and strong leaderships to effectively address climate and ocean issues.

In alignment to the theme of “Fostering Collaboration, Enabling Innovation for our Ocean and Our Future”, DPM Kamikamica joined his fellow AIS Forum Leaders in supporting the Leader’s Declaration and subsequently call for the ratifications of the Treaty on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) as well as the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies when advocating for ocean governance.

The High-Level Meeting concluded with the adoption of a Leader’s Declaration reaffirming the creation of an inclusive space to resolve sustainable development related challenges and pressing global social-environmental issues in AIS Forum member countries, through a Charter based organisation, the latter to be established by the AIS Forum Ministers’ Meeting in the immediate future.

While attending the HLM, DPM Kamikamica also met with some of Fiji’s development partners to advance Fiji’s strategic areas of priorities in climate change, ocean and adaptation issues.