By Pita Ligaiula at COP28 in Dubai, UAE

Tongan King Tupou VI has delivered a powerful speech at COP28 in Dubai that emphasised the need for urgent and collaborative action in addressing the impacts of climate change.

In his address, King Tupou VI highlighted the challenges faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS), expressing disappointment that COP28 might not be the anticipated milestone moment due to slow progress on the Paris Agreement.

He emphasised the severe impacts of climate change and disasters on human security and mobility, leading to the displacement of over 50,000 Pacific people annually.

“It is painful for the people of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to see that COP28 may not be the milestone moment we had all been hoping for because of our slow progress on the Paris Agreement.”

Referring to Tonga’s recent endorsement of the Pacific Partnerships for Prosperity (PPfP), King Tupou VI urged international partners to collaborate in implementing this political prioritisation process.

He specifically called for support in establishing a Pacific Resilience Facility, emphasising its importance in building community resilience.

“I urge all partners to work with us and help us implement the PPfP. We need a Pacific-led, Member-owned and managed community resilience financing facility.”

Highlighting Tonga’s role as an Ocean People, King Tupou VI aligned the country’s goals with the themes outlined by the UAE at COP28, emphasising technology and innovation, inclusion, frontline communities, and finance.

“The 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent sees Pacific Island countries embarking on a blue technological revolution with innovation at the centre, seeking to develop and deploy SIDS-Appropriate technologies.”

As champions of the “Unlocking the Blue Pacific Prosperity Plan,” King Tupou VI stressed the goals of effective ocean management, protection of the Blue Pacific Continent, robust food systems, and sustainable financing mechanisms.

“Tonga and Palau are Champions of the ‘Unlocking the Blue Pacific Prosperity Plan,’ which articulates the goals of one hundred percent (100 percent) effective ocean management for the region.”

King Tupou VI urged COP28 delegates to prioritise “nature, people, lives, and livelihoods at the heart of climate action,” emphasising a paradigm shift in the discussions.

“Let us put ‘nature, people, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action,” he said.