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Pacific Islands: Elders’ statement on Pacific security

Monday 14 March 2022, by siawi3

Source: Pacific Elders Voice - email, 14.03.22

For further information contact:
Mahendra Kumar: tel +61 410641161
Email: kumar.mahend gmail.com
Twitter: @pacificelders
Website: pacificeldersvoice.com

10 March 2022

Statement on Pacific Security

In response to the recent visit to the Pacific by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and the release of the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States, the Pacific Elders’ Voice have the following points to make about regional security in the Pacific:

1. The primary security threat to the Pacific is climate change. This fact is clearly articulated in the Boe Declaration on Regional Security which states: “We affirm that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific and our commitments to progress the implementation of the Paris Agreement.”
This was preceded and guided by the Biketawa Declaration on the vulnerability of Pacific Island countries to the threats to their security.

2. The growing military tension in the Pacific region created by both China and the United States and its allies, including Australia, does little to address the real threat to the region caused by climate change. These nations have done very little to address their own greenhouse gas emissions, despite statements of intent by the nations. Little has been done to address the impacts of climate change in the Pacific caused by their respective greenhouse gas emissions. Adequate funding for loss and damage caused by climate change need to be addressed by Australia, China and the US in their engagement with the Pacific.

3. We are deeply disturbed by the fact that the US representatives at a recent
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meeting sought removal of the words “loss and damage” in the Summary for Policy Makers. This appears to underpin an abrogation of responsibility with respect to the impacts of climate change.

4. The legacy of nuclear testing in the Pacific weighs heavily on the health, minds and hearts of many Pacific Islands people. Little has been done to provide reparations for the damage caused by the countries responsible for the nuclear tests. Sea level rise caused by climate change is likely to exacerbate the nuclear contamination of the Pacific and we therefore seek urgent consideration of the reparations needed for the harm caused by nuclear testing.

5. The nuclearization of the Pacific is an ongoing concern. Spent nuclear fuel and reprocessed waste continues to be transhipped through our region. There is ongoing pressure to make the Pacific a nuclear waste dumping ground. The growing number of nuclear powered and armed military vessels in our region creates enormous unease among Pacific Island people.

6. We are increasingly concerned about the increased militarisation of the Pacific. The development and enhancement of military bases and other military facilities in our region is a growing concern. Such actions can only create a sense of unease in our region that is not of our own making. We therefore call on all nations to de-escalate the build-up of military activity in the Pacific.

7. The recently released US Indo-Pacific Strategy was developed with little, if any, consultation with Pacific Island countries. We also find the combining of Indian Ocean countries with Pacific Island countries problematic and therefore unacceptable. The Pacific Island region (commonly referred to by Pacific islanders as the Moana) has its own set of unique challenges and should not be linked with the Indian Ocean in a blanket, military perspective.

We note that the Strategy states that “allies and partners” outside the region are
increasingly committing new attention to the Indo-Pacific, particularly the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Again, we emphasise that this “new attention” to the Pacific has not been developed through full and proper consultation with all Pacific countries. The Strategy further states that the Quad is a premier regional grouping, a notion that we contest. The security and future of the Pacific must be determined primarily by Pacific Island countries and not by external powers competing over strategic interests within
our region.

8. The Elders are concerned that there has not been an in-depth analysis of the Indo-Pacific Strategy from within the Pacific region and therefore call on academics and others to undertake a thorough analysis of the Strategy in order that we may be able to better understand how this Strategy plays out in the context of our region and our own concerns about security, particularly in relation to climate change.

9. We are suffering from many insecurities in our region. It is time that the international community focus on these insecurities particularly in the context of climate change. We call on all nations to respect the sovereignty of all Pacific Island countries and the right of Pacific peoples to develop and implement their own security strategies without undue coercion from outsiders. The future security of the Pacific region should be primarily determined by Pacific people.

Hilde Heine,
former President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands

Thomas “Tommy” Remengesau,
former President of Palau

Anote Tong,
former President of the Republic of Kiribati

Enele Sopoaga,
former Prime Minister of Tuvalu

Dame Meg Taylor,
former Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat

Robert Underwood,
former Member of U.S. Congress & President of the University of Guam

Kaliopate Tavola,
Ambassador & former Minister, Republic of Fiji

Konai Helu Thaman,
former Professor, The University of the South Pacific

cc
Secretary-General, PIFS
PIF Leaders
PSIDS Ambassadors
Regional & International Organisations
Development Partners & Embassies
Media

The Pacific Elders’ Voice is an independent group of Pacific people who have been leaders in the region. Our purpose is to provide guidance and advice that will strengthen Pacific resilience to current and future environmental, security, and human rights threats. We provide constructive policy inputs for current and future challenges and opportunities facing the Pacific.

°°°

Source: Pacific Elders Voice, email 14.03.22

For further information contact:
Mahendra Kumar: tel +61 410641161
Email: kumar.mahend gmail.com
Twitter: @pacificelders
Website: pacificeldersvoice.com

10 March 2022

Statement on IPCC AR6 WG2 Report on “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”

The Pacific Elders’ Voice (PEV) notes with alarm the findings of the IPCC AR6 Report on ‘Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. It makes grim reading and in the words of UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres “is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership”.

The PEV reiterates calls for Developed countries to urgently take bolder actions in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing much needed finance for Adaptation and Loss & Damage to the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS). Assessment Report Six (AR6) dispenses with hypotheticals, as was the case with the last Assessment Report (AR5), and offers the most comprehensive analysis of how we have already changed our climate beyond many ecosystems’ ability to cope. The Paris Agreement temperature goal of 1.5°C will be breached within decades, leading to “unavoidable increases in multiple climate hazards”.

The Report unequivocally shows climate change is not a future threat. It is here now and is affecting the poorest, most vulnerable in every society around the world. The analysis reaffirms that the climate emergency is already having a profound impact on humanity at 1.1°C of warming and underscores the global injustice of climate disasters.

The Pacific Island countries (PICs) are least responsible for global warming and biodiversity loss, and are amongst the world’s most vulnerable, facing the severest consequences that will continue to worsen in years to come. The impacts and disasters such as cyclones and floods are already taking its toll on the PICs and its people. The limits to adaptation are already being tested in ecosystems such as coral reefs and in the households of families who face constant flood risk and inundation due to sea level rise, but lack the means to move to safer ground.

Climate Change is the most pressing security issue for the PICs, and the IPCC report confirms the urgency for global climate actions.

Adaptation efforts so far have been largely incremental. As home to some of the most vulnerable countries in the world, especially the atoll countries facing existential threat to climate change, we whole heartedly support the Report’s call for ‘transformational’ change in the way we will deal with energy and food security, fresh water supplies, ecosystem damage and loss of land due to sea level changes and coastal degradation.

We need to take heed of the biggest barriers such as finance, capacity, technology and leadership to building resilience. The report advises we must address inequality between rich and poor, which it says exacerbates vulnerability to climate change and undermines our capacity to adapt.

The $100b pledge by wealthy nations a decade ago remains unfulfilled and only a fraction of this has gone towards adaptation. We want financial help, both to defend against future threats and to compensate for damages that can’t be avoided.

We welcome the focus on “climate resilient development”. Cultural resources and traditional knowledge play an important role in climate change adaptation on small islands in the Pacific and contribute significantly to adaptive capacity and resilience.

As the window to save ourselves from climate change is ‘rapidly closing’, according to IPCC, we reiterate the call to limit the global temperature to 1.5°C, which will require the world to cut emissions by 45% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.This should go hand in hand with resources for accelerated action to adapt to the climate crisis.

The Ukraine crisis should not distract policymakers from taking coordinated action to decarbonise the global economy. Whilst the crisis underscores how our continued reliance on fossil fuels makes our economy and energy security vulnerable to geopolitical shocks and crises, it reinforces the need to accelerate the energy transition to a renewable energy future.

This would be the only way of ensuring resilience and security for the Pacific Island countries and its people, avoiding mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure and preventing large parts of our islands becoming uninhabitable.

Hilde Heine,
former President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands

Thomas “Tommy” Remengesau,
former President of Palau

Anote Tong,
former President of the Republic of Kiribati

Enele Sopoaga,
former Prime Minister of Tuvalu

Dame Meg Taylor,
former Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat

Robert Underwood,
former Member of U.S. Congress & President of the University of Guam

Kaliopate Tavola,
Ambassador & former Minister, Republic of Fiji

Konai Helu Thaman,
former Professor, The University of the South Pacific

cc
Secretary-General, PIFS
PIF Leaders
PSIDS Ambassadors
Regional & International Organisations
Development Partners & Embassies
Media

The Pacific Elders’ Voice is an independent group of Pacific people who have been leaders in the region. Our purpose is to provide guidance and advice that will strengthen Pacific resilience to current and future environmental, security, and human rights threats. We provide constructive policy inputs for current and future challenges and opportunities facing the Pacific.