Government of the Cook Islands
Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration
Friday 11 December 2020, 14:00
The Hon Mark Brown, Prime Minister joined Pacific Islands Forum Leaders and Development Partners last night in a High Level Roundtable Meeting calling for Urgent Climate Change Action. The Dialogue, convened on the eve of the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and organised by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Fiji pressed for urgent and ambitious climate action by all countries.
Building on thee Kainaki II Declaration on Climate Change adopted by Forum Leaders at their 2019 meeting in Tuvalu and the Paris Agreement itself, Forum Leaders called for more ambitious commitments on the part of the international community to address the increasingly pressing challenges posed by climate change.
The Roundtable was chaired by the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, the current Forum Chair. Most Forum Members were represented by Presidents, Prime Ministers or senior Ministers and each outlined their national ambitions calling for ambitious action from international development partners.
Speaking on behalf of the Forum on climate change financing, Prime Minister Brown stressed the need for international financial institutions (IFIs) and development partners to be more flexible in their financial assistance to FICs to enable immediate response initiatives that would alleviate the impacts of climate change and enable adaptation and resilience strengthening work. The Prime Minister proposed initiatives such as zero percent interest rates for climate change adaptation funding amortized over 50-100 years – the equivalent time it has taken for climate change consequences to take hold.
“While much attention has been focused on COVID-19 in recent months, climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific,” stressed Primer Minister Brown. “The Cook Islands and other Forum Island Countries require considerable assistance from IFIs and other development partners to carry out immediate adaptation, resilience strengthening and recovery programmes. To this day, the criteria set by IFIs and donors make it very difficult for FICs to access needed assistance on a timely basis. We are calling on our friends, especially Pacific Dialogue Partners, to support us in pushing for necessary reforms to the manner in which climate funding and assistance is provided to SIDS to ensure such assistance responds effectively to the particular circumstances of the Cook Islands and other FICs,” he explained.
At the same time, the Prime Minister highlighted the particular constraints faced by the Cook Islands in accessing climate action financing. “Since the OECD decided that the Cook Islands would no longer be eligible from 1 January 2020 for Official Development Assistance because of our high GDP, it has been very difficult for the Cook Islands to access crucial financial assistance needed for us to address threats arising from climate change,” observed Mr Brown. “Although some 16% of our national budget goes towards mitigation and adaptation measures, the needs of the Cook Islands in this area – like those of other Forum Island Countries – greatly exceed what we can address on our own, particularly given the economic impact of COVID-19. So we have argued that the Cook Islands and other Forum Island Countries in similar situations should equivalent access to financial assistance on the same basis as all other FICs and SIDS and I am pleased that our Forum colleagues have supported us on this matter of principle. In my remarks I urged our Dialogue Partners to support us in this critical area and we will continue to pursue this matter in the weeks and months ahead at both bilateral and multilateral fora,” the Prime Minister explained.
The Roundtable was an important step in the region’s process of engaging with the international community in pursuit of the region’s climate change priorities. This process will require continued negotiating and lobbying activities in the months ahead in the lead-up to the global Conference of the Parties to the Paris Agreement to be held in the United Kingdom next year.
As part of the Roundtable, a number of Dialogue Partners made interventions in support of the Forum’s climate change aspirations. The Forum’s Dialogue Partners are Canada, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Supporting the Prime Minister during the Roundtable were Ms Tepaeru Herrmann, Secretary of Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki/Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI), her officials, and Mr Wayne King, Director, Climate Change Cook Islands with the Office of the Prime Minister.
1. Prime Minister Brown delivering his remarks during the Roundtable.
2. Forum Leaders and senior representatives of 18 Forum Dialogue Partners who participated in the Roundtable
3. PM Brown supported by MFAI Secretary, Tepaeru Herrmann; Director for Pacific Region, Dr Jim Gosselin; OPM Climate Change Director, Wayne King; MFAI Foreign Service Officer, Ewan Cameron
For the Pacific Islands Forum media release, see https://www.forumsec.org/2020/12/11/marking-the-5th-anniversary-of-the-paris-agreement-pacific-leaders-repeat-urgency-for-global-climate-change-action-now/?fbclid=IwAR21zOpzZru3ufMer_CrWauJAxB8vKSMFNSqww5vbi91YJNhUEhVvQODdeg
Listen to Prime Minister Brown delivery his remarks at https://www.facebook.com/ForumSec/videos/304391244182801 from 1:22:52 through to 1:31:00