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PRESS STATEMENT September 4, 2002


The Pacific Island Leaders and Ministers attending the World Summit in South Africa have called for firmer international commitments to sustainable development. The Summit comes ten years after the Earth Summit in Rio that promised to protect the environment and promote sustainable development.

Those who spoke on the first day of the High-Level Segment of the Summit include the President of the Republic of Marshall Islands, HE Kessai Note, Prime Minister of Tuvalu HE Saufatu Sopoaga, the Deputy Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Hon Rialuth Serge Vohor, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Papua New Guinea, Sir Rabi Namaliu. They spoke of the commitments of the Pacific islands to environment protection and sustainable development but lamented what Sir Namaliu called "the broken promises" of the Rio Earth Summit. HE Kessai reminded the Summit that, ten years after Rio, "there remains mass poverty" and widening gaps between rich and poor.

Environmental problems were highlighted, with the Tuvalu Prime Minister describing the "very scary experience" faced by his people on the tiny atolls of Tuvalu as a result of climate change and sea level rise. He, like the others who spoke, called on all parties to take immediate steps to ratify Kyoto Protocol "as a matter of urgency."

The Tuvalu Prime Minster also expressed disappointment that the Summit could not agree on targets for implementing renewable energy "given the direct link between energy and climate change" and despite Tuvalu’s continued call for a minimum target of 15% on renewable energy by 2015. He blamed those countries that had refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol for the failure to agree on renewable energy targets. He welcomed the positive stance taken by the European Union and others on climate change and renewable energy.

The President of RMI called the impact of climate change a matter of "life and death" and he spoke of the Ocean as the means of livelihood that was "now turning against us as a result of foreign forces beyond our power to combat."

The Deputy Prime Minister of Vanuatu expressed concerns over the shipment of radioactive materials through the Pacific Ocean, in particular the absence of compensation in the event of an accident involving such shipments in the Pacific.

Part of the problem according to the PNG Minister is that "there has been much rhetoric" without genuine commitment. He and others who spoke therefore called for commitment of new and additional resources to implement the outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit, and not "mere expressions" of moral obligations by industrialized countries. They also called for international support to the Pacific’s own Initiative Partnerships tabled at the Summit to turn the Summit outcomes into tangible benefits for everyone.

There were also concerns about the absence of transparency and accountability in the development process, and while the Tuvalu Prime Minister called on developing countries to make commitments to good governance, the Deputy Prime Minister of Vanuatu called on the OECD to be more transparent and inclusive in its pursuit of the Harmful Taxation Initiative.

The President of RMI called on the world to use its brilliance and capability to rebuild a world of peace and prosperity for all, while the Tuvalu Prime Minister evoked the spirit of partnership by quoting from Ben Franklin: "We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will hang separately."

The Summit continues with more speakers from the Pacific Islands expected to take the podium today and tomorrow before the Implementation Plan and Political Declaration are passed.

For additional information, contact: Ulafala Aiavao at 

Ulafala Aiavao Media Adviser Forum Secretariat Private Bag Suva, Fiji

Tel: (679) 3220 220; Mob: (679) 9998 674 Fax: (679) 3305 554 Email:  Web:  Mirror site: 

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