Pacific leaders support climate change action, but back off mission to investigate West Papua

    The 47th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting in Pohnpei has agreed to push for radical climate change action.

    John Silk, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, said the Forum’s commitment would ensure there would still be 16 seats at the Pacific Islands Forum in another 100 years.

    “We will push for ambitious climate action across all sectors,” Hon. Silk said.

    “This must include reducing aviation and maritime emissions in line with the 1.5°C temperature target we all agreed in Paris.”

    “If we succeed it will be one of the best examples of island leadership that we have ever seen and help us avoid up to half a degree of warming.”

    The 47th Pacific Islands Forum summit began on September 7 in Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia.

    The Pacific Islands Forum includes Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

    Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama boycotted the event and Palau’s President Tommy Remengesau Jr. is in the middle of an election campaign.

    Tonga’s delegation was led by Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva and included the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Dr. ‘Aisake Valu Eke and the Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet, Dr. Palenitina Langa’oi.

    While the Forum was prepared to make a statement on climate change, it backed off from taking promised action on West Papua, where local people have been fighting the Indonesian occupation for 50 years.

    Radio New Zealand reported that at last year’s Forum in Port Moresby a decision was reached to have the chair, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, propose a fact finding mission to Indonesia.

    However, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, said the Indonesian government indicated it would not welcome a Forum delegation and did  not like the term “fact-finding.”

    Nauru and Tuvalu have joined the Pacific Coalition on West Papua, voicing their concerns over human rights abuses in Papua, and teaming up with Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia’s FLNKS, the United Liberation Movement of West Papua and the Pacific Islands Alliance of Non-Governmental Organisations, or PANGO.

    Elsewhere at the forum, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced NZ$12.5 million to fund sustainable development in Pacific Island fisheries.

    The money will support sustainable coastal fisheries and aquaculture in the region through two projects,  improving fisheries food security and sustainable livelihoods for Pacific Island communities’ and Sustainable Pacific Aquaculture Development.

    Meanwhile, the Forum’s final communique leaders called for action to ending Illegal fishing and associated activities, including high seas bunkering, human trafficking, and illicit trade.

    The Forum agreed to grant New Caledonia and French Polynesia full membership.

    The French territories have been vying for years for full membership of the regional body, which is meant to be for independent countries only.

    The main points

    • The 47th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting in Pohnpei has agreed to push for radical climate change action.
    • John Silk, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, said the Forum would push for ambitious climate action across all sectors.
    • Elsewhere at the Forum, Pacific leaders backed away from a planned investigation of human rights abuses in Indonesian-occupoied West Papua.
    • The Forum agreed to grant New Caledonia and French Polynesia full membership.

    For more information

    Pacific Island nations lead in ratification of Paris Agreement on climate change

    Forum summit underway in FSM

    ‘Small and Far’: Pacific Island States Gather at Annual Forum

    Pacific welcomes NZ’s Future of Fisheries funding

    READ MORE

    Rev Socratez Yoman: ‘Akilisi Pohiva is the only Polynesian leader who has publicly shown support for West Papua

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