Vanuatu President Speaks Up For Small Islands States

Lonsdale forcefully says it is morally unacceptable for industrialized nations to allow islands to sink

Compiled by Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 21, 2017) – “It is simply not acceptable, purely in moral terms, for the world to allow the small island developing states to sink slowly beneath the waves because of the selfish determination of industrialised nations to protect their own economies.

“Time is fast running out and I beg you all to act with us as a unified Small Island States (SIDS) voice.

"The Climate Vulnerable Forum, a coalition of 48 countries from Asia, Africa, Caribbean, the Pacific and South America of which Vanuatu is a member, has declared that we strive to meet 100% domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible while working to end energy poverty, protect water and food security, taking into consideration national circumstances”.

This is the second and last address by the Head of State at the Small Islands States Conference at the Crans Montana Leaders Forum in the small town of Dakhla, on the Atlantic Coast of the Sahara Desert, in the South of the Kingdom of Morocco in North Africa on March 18.

The President urged the Leaders of the SIDS to change their approach and to collectively become more united and coherent in order to be more effective in rallying support of the international community to help address the impacts of Climate Change on the ground.

“Our collective task here at this Crans Montana Forum is to encourage international cooperation and overall sustainable growth for SIDS.

"This is another opportunity to promote best practices and to ensure a permanent dialogue between all those who handle high-level responsibilities.

"My priority is to enable Vanuatu’s and other SIDS’ effective response to climate change, disaster risk reduction and sadly, recovery from major disasters.

"To that end, we must quickly move towards cooperative approaches that set very concrete timelines and deliverables," the Vanuatu President stressed.

In addition he said, “For those of us who live in SIDS, the need for sustainable development is pressing. The world’s success and failures in tackling climate change and other forms of environmental degradation, disease, poverty, and economic volatility – is already having a major impact on families, health, livelihoods, and future prospects of our people.

"Every dialogue that takes us one step closer to seizing this great opportunity is good, and this dialogue is even better as it promotes partnership and cooperation that scales up and speeds up this global shift."

President Lonsdale also emphasized an urgent need of a paradigm shift among the Small Island States leaders.

“We in SIDS have to let go of the ‘you go first’ mindset that hinders progress and take on the ‘let me lead’ attitude to accelerate progress.

"In Small Island Developing States we have emerged as leaders willing to act first at home and forge partnerships abroad to improve results.

"The stance of SIDS nations is clear – we are advocates for and role models of the transformative changes towards sustainable development which the world needs to make," he said.

In his statement at the SIDS conference, President Lonsdale also listed three key messages for SIDS:

  • The vulnerability of Small Island Developing States is far too high to qualify as “the sea of change” of what all those small countries are all experiencing now.
  • The need to develop SIDS specific responses to address key issues. We are seeing this in Vanuatu as we develop tailored approaches to adapt to climate change and disasters, to develop renewable energy and to better manage environmental issues.
  • The critical need for partnerships but more than that, partnerships which are sustainable and durable.

Furthermore he said there are many areas in which SIDS are now taking the lead.

For example the Martinique Action Plan (MAP) which outlines practical steps for deployment of renewable energy resources and technologies on SIDS, the Samoa Pathway SIDS Action Platform, and most urgent, the upcoming COP23 SIDS COP Conference of the Parties under the UN Convention on Climate Change, that will be led by Fiji and other Pacific Island Countries.

President Lonsdale added that at the upcoming COP23, Vanuatu and Fiji will fight to ensure that immediate and comprehensive steps are taken to implement the Paris Agreement.

He announced with pride that Vanuatu is already on a pathway to meet 100% renewable energy by 2030 as specified in the government energy roadmap.

The Head of state said Vanuatu has just launched its National Sustainable Development Plan called “The People’s Plan” that is aligned closely to the UN Sustainable Development Goals which includes the nation’s highest development goals across Economic, Social, Environmental and Cultural pillars.

However, President Lonsdale explained that without real action on climate change, Vanuatu will simply be unable to realize any of its development aspirations.

He said SIDS require sustainable financial support from developed countries.

“According to the Paris Agreement, we can expect to see a floor of 100 billion USD per year available globally for climate action by 2020.

"But, as Head of State I require from our development partners more transparency, confidence and predictability on current and expected climate finance flows to rapidly upscale the incredible adaptation and mitigation work we have already started," he said.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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