Taputapuatea Declaration On Climate Change

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Polynesian Leaders Group Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

July 16, 2015

The Polynesian P.A.C.T. Polynesia Against Climate Threats

We are the people of the largest ocean of the world.

For us, "the People of the Canoe", protecting our Ocean and our environment means being resilient to adverse impacts of climate change and remaining steadfast to our Polynesian identity.

The Pacific Ocean is a vital regulator of climate for the whole world and needs a voice. We, the Polynesian Leaders Group, are the voice for the Pacific Ocean, and wish to carry our strategic vision to· deal with the adverse effects of climate change by limiting global warming below 1.5°C and having access to tools and means to adapt to the adverse impacts caused by climate change.

We want the voice of the Polynesians to be heard at the COP21 in Paris with regards to the intensification of extreme weather events, the loss of territorial integrity, the displacements of populations, the deterioration of our natural and cultural heritage and the management of our common ocean.

We, the Polynesian Leaders Group, state that our islands and peoples are at the frontline of devastation from climate change.

We are victims of climate change. We must be heard. We call for justice and our right of survival.

We urge the international community not only to know but to feel our suffering, stand with us on this issue and support us in the implementation of practical solutions to ensure our survival.

We, the Polynesian Leaders Group, reaffirm our intimate historic and cultural relationship with our ocean and nature. Today, largely due to human activities and increasing greenhouse gas emissions, our ocean is getting warmer, more acidic and its level rising. We are suffering the progressive decrease in coral vitality, the contamination of our marine life, the erosion of our shorelines, the intensification of cyclones and frequent swell, the new outbreaks of infectious diseases and the threat to our habitats.

Climate change and its adverse impacts are poisoning our sea, making our lands infertile and threatening the foundation of our identity as Polynesian peoples. Our children’s future is in doubt if the cause of climate change is not addressed and if we are unable to adapt to its impacts.

Our islands are scattered over 10 million square kilometers and one third of the world ‘s low lying atolls are located in our jurisdictions. We are extremely vulnerable. . Therefore, we express our grave concern of the devastating impacts of climate change and its linkages to the erosion of biodiversity, the affront to social justice and the resulting economic damages. We state our fear that climate change could result in the forced displacement of our populations and the loss of territories with their unique natural and cultural heritage.

We, the People of the Canoe, have managed to withstand the test of time mid deal with the many challenges to adapt ourselves, build resilience and continue to exist. We are proud of being Polynesian and of our maritime heritage.

Thursday 16 July 2015, we, the Polynesian Leaders Group, gathered on the sacred site of Marae Taputapuiitea, in French Polynesia, to jointly decide on our common course and express commitment for P.A.C.T. (Polynesia Against Climate Threats) out of love for our peoples, lands and our ocean, united by the feeling and value of ‘Aroha ‘ that we all share.

1. Although collectively, our contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions are negligible, we in Polynesia face extreme weather and environmental threats that are exacerbated by climate change which is increasingly endangering our livelihoods and lives.

2. We state that for justice among and across generations of peoples with a shared history, it is our responsibility to preserve our cultures, to manage our ocean and to protect our lands. Recognising that we do not own nature, and that we are but custodians of our environment, we commit to ensuring that our development is sustainable. Given that our development is primarily based on tourism, fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture, we emphasize the importance of a healthy environment and stable climate. Therefore, we consider ‘no regrets’ measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change and its impacts as new opportunities for the sustainable development of our societies.

3. We strongly urge the international community to recognize and accept our specific vulnerabilities and the special case for SIDS as referred to in the SAMOA Pathway, Outcome document of the Third International Conference on SIDS, adopted on 4 September 2014 in Apia.

Our obligation to adapt to these multiple vulnerabilities leads us to pay particular attention to three crucial points that will be raised during COP21:

With regards to the intensification of extreme weather events:

With regards to the loss of territorial integrity:

With regards to population displacements:

With regards to our natural and cultural heritage:

With regards to the management of our common oceanic space:

With regard to our dependency on imported hydrocarbons:

5. We, the Polynesian Leaders Group, hereby voice our determination and that of our communities to unite our efforts against the human causes of climate change that jeopardise our future and sustainable development prospects. In this regard, we reiterate the Polynesian Leaders Group Declaration on Climate Change and Coral Reefs adopted in September 2012 in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, urging the Parties to the UNFCCC that emit greenhouse gas to implement ambitious mitigation measures urgently.

Our Ocean, ‘Te Moana o Hiva’ holds many riches. We strongly affirm that our collaboration with the world’s most industrialized countries can only be possible if they make their best efforts to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions.

6. We, the Polynesian ‘Leaders Group, with the support of the international community, commit ourselves to make every effort to preserve the natural and cultural Polynesian heritage and. thus become the world’s showcase for sustainable development.

The current Chair of the Polynesian Leaders Group, Honourable Toke Talagi, and the President of French Polynesia, Honourable Edouard Fritch, are responsible for bringing the Taputapuatea Declaration to the 2015 Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ Summit, the 29th Conference of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the 9th Ministerial Conference of the Pacific Community; the 4th France-Oceania Summit and to the 21st meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Climate is Changing. The situation is serious. It is now time for action.

Signed by The Polynesian Leaders Group:

Honorable Edouard Fritch, President of French Polynesia; Honorable Toke Talagi Premier of Niue and PLG Chair; Honorable Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands; Honorable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa; Honorable Aliki Faipule Siopili Perez, Ulu-o-Tokelau; Honorable Akilisi Pohiva Prime Minister of Tonga; and Honorable Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu.

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