Fiji warns ‘selfish’ countries amid Paris Agreement climate rulebook deadlock

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama … urging world leaders to summon the courage and political will to make the switch from dirty to clean energy. Image: Fiji Times

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Talks to draft the Paris Agreement rulebook remained deadlocked today on traditionally tough issues.

Emerging economies – China, India, Brazil and South Africa – stood their ground on financial aid and the division of rich and poor countries.

Others vented their frustration. The UN chief flew back to Poland with a message that failure would be “immoral” and “suicidal”, Fiji’s prime minister said it would be “craven, irresponsible and selfish”, and a coalition of countries born in the Paris talks in 2015 was resurrected, with a call to arms.

READ MORE: Make the ‘clean energy’ switch, urges Fiji’s Bainimarama

Businesses are outpacing national governments in rolling out zero emission vehicles across Europe, North America and New Zealand, says The Climate Group as another five leading companies have joined its corporate leadership initiative EV100 and pledged to electrify their fleets by 2030.

A push has emerged in Poland for countries to step up their climate pledges and Megan Darby of Climate Home News interviews one of the scientists whose work made the world realise it is on the brink.


With new draft rules written by the Polish Cop24 presidency in hand by yesterday afternoon, and many issues still to be resolved, countries and groups came out swinging for their demands.

For the four Basic emerging economies – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – it’s all about differentiating their responsibilities from those of rich countries, and firming up the latter’s commitments to provide financial aid.

Commitments not fully met
“There’s a bit of concern that financial commitments, as agreed to in Paris, have not yet fully been met,” said South African tourism minister Tokozile Xasa.

“It’s quite clear, the evidence shows, that not only do we need reliability in the available finance to support of the initiatives, but that the amount allocated is hopelessly inadequate.”

On the question of how the rulebook applies to countries, the group stressed that the Paris Agreement gives developing countries more leniency as they build up abilities to, for instance, track and report emissions.

“There has to be some degree of flexible reassertion of the differentiated approach … and the allowance made for developing countries,” Xasa said.

Is also another man’s Paris Agreement. The Basic group argued that inserting “equal treatment” of developed and developing countries into the rulebook would amount to a “backslide” on the accord.

EU Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete countered that the Paris Agreement called for a more flexible differentiation than the developed/developing line of the 1990s.

“We fully respect what we agreed in Paris, but Paris also points out … that we have to have an enhanced transparency system with built-in flexibilities,” he said.

Countries that need flexibility should get it, while their capabilities are built up, he added.

The Green Climate Fund has extended its search for a new executive director to 3 January. Climate Home News understands big hitters like Nigerian former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and UN desertification chief Monique Barbut have been encouraged to apply, but many potential candidates are deterred by the Songdo location.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific voices tell stories of climate change reality in new documentary

A new documentary Subject to Change, a collection of interviews and personal stories from across the Pacific, explores the impact of climate change. Video: MFAT

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Two young women students are the driving force who created a new documentary titled Subject to Change which highlights the climate change challenges faced by Pacific people in the region.

Among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts, Pacific voices are at the heart of the film which has been premiered at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, at the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion.

Producer Amiria Ranfurly, who is of Niuean-New Zealand descent, and Polish director Wiktoria Ojrzyńska, are students of Massey University of New Zealand.

READ MORE: AUT’s Bearing Witness climate change project

The young women chose to showcase climate change in their work because of the impact in the region.


“We wanted to explore the impacts that climate change is having on our world, and Subject to Change is a documentary film that presents a collection of interviews and personal stories from across the Pacific,” says Ranfurly.

“With passion and determination, we have created a film that shares insight to New Zealand’s response to the global objectives set by the Paris Agreement, alongside intimate stories from the frontline in a truthful and evocative way.”

Documentary producer Amiria Ranfurly (left) and director Wiktoria Ojrzyńska … “intimate frontline climate stories”. Image: COP24 Pacific

Director Ojrzyńska says: “Directing Subject to Change was an amazing storytelling experience, during which I worked with many inspirational people and gained experience across different aspects of filmmaking.”

Collaboration project
Subject to Change
is a collaboration between Massey University and NZ’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

Present to launch the film at the premiere was the Ambassador and Climate Change Special Adviser of the Government of New Zealand, with special guest speaker Inia Seruiratu, COP23 High Level Climate Champion of Global Climate Action, and Minister for Defence and National Security of Fiji who introduced the Director and the Producer of the film.

“Climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific,” said Ambassador Stephanie Lee. “Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has described the climate change challenge as the Nuclear-Free Movement of our generation.”

“We have heard about the IPCC 1.5 degrees report and we already knew that it really underlines this challenge as an urgent one. The documentary you are about to see embodies that sense of challenge, but it also embodies a sense of hope,” said Ambassador Lee.

The documentary featured and drew strongly on the perspective of the Fijian people, particularly of those of the small island of Batiki with a population of around 300 people that was hit hardest by Cyclone Winston in February, 2017.

Inia Seruiratu thanked the NZ government and Massey University for supporting the documentary, as well as New Zealand’s support and partnership on the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion where the premiere was being held.

Speaking about his experience as a Pacific islander, Seruiratu thanked the producer, director and the team behind the documentary for producing a powerful medium with which the voices of the vulnerable could be heard.

“People need to see and experience visually the realities others such as those in the Pacific are facing in order to better understand. And this is why this documentary is so important and serves as a great tool,” said Seruiratu.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Nations close ranks to stop ‘big four’ oil producers watering down UN report

By Sara Stefanini and Karl Mathiesen in Katowice, Poland

In a moment of drama in Poland, countries have closed ranks against a push by oil producers to water down recognition of the UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming.

Four big oil and gas producers blocked the UN climate talks from welcoming the most influential climate science report in years, as the meeting in Katowice descended into acrimony yesterday.

By failing to reach agreement after two and half hours of emotional negotiations, delegates in Katowice set the scene for a political fight next week over the importance of the UN’s landmark scientific report on the effects of a 1.5C rise in the global temperature.

READ MORE: 12 activists denied entry to Poland for UN climate summit

The battle, halfway through a fortnight of Cop24 negotiations, was over two words: “note” or “welcome”.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia said it was enough for the members of the UN climate convention (the UNFCCC) to “note” the findings.


But poor and undeveloped countries, small island states, Pacific nations, Europeans and many others called to change the wording to “welcome” the study – noting that they had commissioned it when they reached the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

“This is not a choice between one word and another,” Rueanna Haynes, a delegate for St Kitts and Nevis, told the plenary.

‘This is us’
“This is us, as the UNFCCC, being in a position to welcome a report that we requested, that we invited [scientists] to prepare. So it seems to me that if there is anything ludicrous about the discussion that is taking place, it is that we in this body are not in a position to welcome the report.”

The four opposing countries argued the change was not necessary. Saudi Arabia threatened to block the entire discussion if others pushed to change the single word – and warned that it would disrupt the last stretch of negotiations between ministers next week.

The aim of the Cop24 climate summit is to agree a dense set of technical rules to underpin the Paris Agreement’s goals for limiting global warming to well below 2C, and ideally 1.5C, by the end of the century.

The scientific report was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October. It found that limiting global warming to 1.5C, rather than below 2C, could help avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, and potentially save vulnerable regions such as low-lying Pacific islands and coastal villages in the Arctic.

But it also made clear that the world would have to slash greenhouse gases by about 45 percent by 2030.

Before the plenary on Saturday, the UN’s climate chief Patricia Espinosa said she hoped to see countries “really welcoming and highlighting the importance of this report… Even if the IPCC is very clear in saying how difficult it will be to achieve that goal, it still says it is possible”.

The US, which raised doubts about the science behind the report before it was finalised, said on Saturday that it would accept wording that noted the IPCC’s findings – while stressing that that “does not imply endorsement” of its contents.

Russia said “it is enough just to note it”, rather than welcoming the report, while Kuwait said it was happy with the wording as it stood.

Plenary push
The push in the plenary to change the wording to “welcome” began with the Maldives, which chairs the alliance of small island states. It was quickly backed by a wide range of countries and groups, including the EU, the bloc of 47 least developed countries, the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, African countries, Norway (another large oil and gas producer), Argentina, Switzerland, Nepal, Bhutan, Marshall Islands, Belize and South Korea.

Negotiators huddled with the plenary meeting’s chair, Paul Watkinson, for nearly an hour to try and work out a compromise.

But Watkinson’s suggestion – welcoming the “efforts” of the IPCC experts and noting the “importance of the underlying research” – fell flat.

Delegates from Latin America, small islands, Europe, New Zealand, Canada, Africa and elsewhere argued it was not enough to highlight the work that went into the report, it needed to address the findings.

Watkinson said he was disappointed that they could not agree. But a negotiator said the talks would continue: “This is a prelude to a huge fight next week,” when ministers arrive in Poland. It will be up to the Polish hosts to find a place for the report’s findings in the final outcome of the talks.

Wording that welcomes, rather than notes, the 1.5C report should be the bare minimum, Belize negotiator Carlos Fuller told Climate Home News. However, “the oil producing countries recognise that if the international community takes it on board, it means a massive change in the use of fossil fuels”, he said. “From the US point of view, this is the Trump administration saying ‘we do not believe the climate science’.”

‘Won the fight’
Fuller added: “In my opinion we have won the fight, because the headline tomorrow will be: the UNFCCC cannot agree the IPCC report’, and people will say ‘Why, what’s in the report?’ and go and look.”

The 1.5C science wasn’t the only divisive issue after a week of Cop24 talks, with countries still mostly holding their ground on the Paris Agreement’s rulebook.

Contentious decisions related to the transparency of reporting emissions and the make up of national climate plans have all been refined, but ultimately kicked to the higher ministerial level. Several observers raised the concern that some unresolved issues may be too technical for ministers to debate with adequate expertise.

Financial aid is still contentious issue. The rules on how and what developed countries must report on their past and planned funding, and the extent to which emerging economies are urged to do the same, remains largely up for debate.

In a further moment of drama on Saturday afternoon, Africa stood firm as UN officials tried to finalise a draft of the rules that will govern the deal. Africa’s representative Mohamed Nasr said the continent could not accept the deal as it was presented, forcing the text to be redrafted on the plenary floor.

“You can’t bully Africa, it’s 54 countries,” said one negotiator, watching from the plenary floor.

The change will mean new proposals to be made to the text next week. That would allow African ministers to attempt to strengthen a major climate fund dedicated to helping countries adapt to climate change and push for less strict measures for developing countries.

‘Voicing our concerns’
“We have been voicing our concerns, maybe the co-chairs in their attempt to seek a balanced outcome they overlooked some of the stuff. So we are saying that we are not going to stop the process but we need to make sure that our views are included,” Nasr told CHN.

Mohamed Adow, a campaigner with Christian Aid, said the African intervention had “saved the process” by ensuring that dissatisfied countries could still have their issues heard.

“It’s actually much better than it’s ever been in this process at this stage,” he said. “Because this is the end of the first week and ministers have been provided with clear options. Of course nothing is closed but the options are actually narrower.”

This article is republished with permission from Climate Home News.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

To conserve West Papua, start with land rights and forget past mistakes

ANALYSIS:  By Bernadinus Steni and Daniel Nepstad

Large landscapes of intact tropical forests will figure prominently in global strategies to avert catastrophic climate change and conserve biodiversity.

In this context, the extensive forests of Papua and West Papua provinces in Indonesia are now becoming the focus of international conservation efforts. There are many inherent perils to this new boom in conservation in the provinces, which could repeat past mistakes that have deprived and dispossessed indigenous Papuans from their lands.

Here we briefly outline the challenges of conservation, development and the recognition of indigenous land rights in West Papua province*, based on our ongoing collaborative applied research projects in the province that began in 2013.

READ MORE: The denial of traditional land rights in West Papua

West Papua Province, located in the Bird’s Head region of Papua (New Guinea) with a total area of 9.7 million hectares, retains more than 90 percent of its forest cover (Figure 1).

West Papua Province was created in 2003 by splitting the province previously known as Papua into two provinces. As one of the youngest provinces in Indonesia, West Papua is under pressure to accelerate socio-economic development.


The poverty rate in West Papua is high, although declining. In 2016, one fourth of West Papuans (225,800 people) lived under the regional poverty line, defined as 475 thousand Indonesian rupiah (about US$31) per month (Badan Pusat Statistik, 2017).

The rural areas of West Papua, which are mostly populated by indigenous Papuans, are poorer than urban areas.

Extensive forests
Although lagging behind in its socio-economic development, West Papua is one of few provinces with extensive native forests.

The total forest cover in West Papua is approximately 90 percent of the total area, for a total of 8.9 million hectares. This figure includes all forest cover within both state forests and non-forest areas.

Figure 1: Land cover in West Papua province in 2016, based on data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Map: Mongabay

Due to the biological diversity of the province as well its high proportion of forest cover, civil society organisations and international conservation organisations have advocated for the government to declare the province a conservation province.

The provincial government declared in 2015 that it would become a Conservation Province, and the supporting provincial regulation for the conservation province, now retitled as a “Sustainable Development Province”, has been drafted (Note 1).

There are many inherent dangers to the designation of West Papua as a conservation province. The province is rich in its natural environment but also has one of Indonesia’s highest rates of poverty.

Indonesian planning processes have historically not formally acknowledged customary ownership of land or zoned as forest areas.

By zoning areas as part of the forest estate, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, with conservation areas managed by the central government. There are several types of conservation areas under Indonesian law, including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and hunting parks.

People displaced
Within the core areas of national parks and also the entire area of wildlife sanctuaries, no land uses are permitted. The establishment of conservation areas in Indonesia has historically led to the significant displacement of indigenous peoples from the core areas, restricting their access to both land and livelihoods.

The provincial government of West Papua, with the support of the Papuan People’s Council (Majelis Rakyat Papua) and civil society organisations (Note 2), have developed a draft provincial regulation on the recognition of customary land rights.

The regulation builds on the momentum of the Indonesian constitutional court decision in 2012, 35/PUU-X/2012, which recognised the rights of indigenous groups to lands within the Indonesian forest estate.

At present, there is uncertainty about how the sustainable development and customary land rights draft regulations would affect one other, once implemented.

Finally, in parallel to these initiatives, the administration of President Joko Widodo, which came into office in 2015, has been focusing on reducing poverty in regional areas of Indonesia, with a particular focus on the Indonesian portion of the island of New Guinea.

The main element of his policy has been to increase spending on infrastructure development as well as driving agricultural development. Previously remote and inaccessible areas of Papua are now finally getting access to roads and electricity, increasing their access to markets and other opportunities.

Can these three policy initiatives — for conservation, development and the recognition of indigenous land rights — be balanced in a way that benefits both indigenous Papuans and the environment?

Balanced solution
From our research in West Papua, undertaken through various initiatives since 2013, we highlight several challenges to finding a balanced solution:

  • A systematic lack of spatial and socio-economic data on West Papuans, in particular their land ownership systems;
  • Limited markets and low prices for commodities or crops produced by Papuans coupled with missing downstream industries that could add value to these products; and
  • Spatial planning and land allocation processes that do not fully consider the rights and distribution of benefits to indigenous communities.

These challenges are all evident in the district of Fakfak, located in the central-western part of the province (Figure 1).

Fakfak District faces the Maluku Islands and historically, has long been integrated into the spice trade, especially for its local variety of nutmeg. Nutmeg and mace have been historically used worldwide for culinary purposes and can be processed further to produce essential oil and oleoresin.

Although Indonesia has been the center of nutmeg production for over a thousand years, the full potential of the nutmeg market remains untapped. One of the main undervalued nutmeg varieties is Papuan nutmeg (Myristica argentea Warb) or locally known as Pala Tomandin.

Papuan nutmeg is commercially grown in Fakfak and Kaimana districts in West Papua, with most of the production concentrated in Fakfak district. Nutmeg is cultivated in wild and semi-wild forests by indigenous farmers, in lands owned and managed under customary laws.

Diversified livelihoods
Despite being registered as a geographical indication in 2014 as Pala Tomandin, the demand and price for Papuan nutmeg remains low. Consequently, nutmeg farmers often have diversified livelihoods such as fishing and seaweed cultivation or farming other crops.

Deforestation has remained relatively limited in Fakfak District, although the period of 2010 to 2016 saw a spike in clearing related to forestry concessions and the allocation of an oil palm concession, according to data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Landcover change in Fakfak District from 1990 to 2016, showing the large area of secondary forest in forest concessions, created by logging operations. Map: Mongabay

Concessions, where logging companies not owned by local communities extract timber, remain the main driver of deforestation, which is a trend that has been increasing. Forest degradation, which is the conversion of primary forests to secondary forest, has primarily been driven by forestry concessions and spiked dramatically during the period of 2000 to 2010.

The rate of forest degradation declined significantly after this period, with the majority of degradation now occurring outside of forestry concessions. Currently, indigenous land owners receive compensation payments for timber harvested by the concessionaires, although the amount and distribution of benefits may vary.

From our case studies in Fakfak District, local people have described localised processes of demographic expansion and increasing financial pressures, such as the costs of paying for secondary and tertiary education for their children, as the causes of this expansion into primary forest areas.

The case of Fakfak district reveals the complexity of solving the intertwined challenges of poverty, indigenous land rights and conservation. Recognising indigenous land rights should be prioritized, to achieve both social justice and environmental conservation.

In the Amazon region, for example, formal recognition of indigenous territories inhibits deforestation just as much as conservation areas do. The recognition of land rights requires maps that delineate the boundaries of indigenous territories.

Social taboos
There are social taboos, however, in delineating these boundaries as historically boundaries between different tribes and clans were established through wars and conflict. Without proper and legitimate mediation processes in place, mapping customary boundaries has the potential to reignite these conflicts.

In the absence of conflict mediation mechanisms and institutions, there are other methods available for delineating indigenous land ownership. INOBU, together with AKAPE, a Fakfak based NGO, has trialed mapping lands based on land use instead of ownership rights, particularly focused on nutmeg forest gardens in Fakfak district.

Thus far, we have mapped 263 farmers with a total area of 792 hectares in 20 villages. These maps provide indicative maps of customary use of forest areas, which will later serve as the basis for discussion on ownership rights between clans and tribes, and with the government.

Recognising the land rights will not be sufficient to solve the problem of deforestation and forest degradation, although it will help. Improving the value and markets for locally important forest commodities is crucial.

In Fakfak, we have been working on improving the markets and value of Papuan nutmeg while strengthening alternative livelihoods in order to alleviate the economic pressures on indigenous Papuan households.

We have been engaging with nutmeg exporters to ensure that the product meets the standards required by international markets. We have also been working with an Indonesian cosmetics company to help develop local industries for processed nutmeg products.

All these interventions, in turn, should be counterbalanced by strengthening customary institutions for sustainably managing forest resources. Finally, a district level, multi-stakeholder platform will guide the sustainable production of nutmeg in Fakfak district.

Broader application
The lessons from Fakfak district can be applied more broadly to the province of West Papua. We propose that the recognition of the land and resource rights of indigenous Papuans should be the immediate priority of the provincial government, donors and conservation and development organisations.

Conservation should be viewed through the prism of strengthening customary systems and institutions, including village (kampung) administrations, for managing the environment rather than the expansion of protected areas.

The recognition of indigenous land and resource rights should not, however, extinguish their rights to develop in accordance with their own aspirations. Rather, indigenous groups should be supported through interventions that help them to develop profitable and sustainable industries, as well as support for accessing health and education.

An essential part of this should be developing economic alternatives for indigenous people that increase the value of standing, well-managed forests. Strict conservation, where necessary, should be supported through adequate financial and other incentives, with the benefits distributed equitably.

Prior to establishing or expanding conservation areas, governments should also assess the potential effects on indigenous peoples, including how it will contribute to, or impede, poverty reduction targets and the likelihood of future conflicts.

The Jokowi administration’s proposed investments in roads and electrification could help improve the economic viability of new community-based enterprises in West Papua if designed and implemented with the participation of local stakeholders, especially indigenous communities.

Participatory planning
Without effective participatory planning, investments like these can lead to a natural resource-grabbing free-for-all.

The goals of both social justice and conservation are best served by recognition of land rights plus the development of economic alternatives for forest communities that enhance their livelihoods by increasing the value of their forests.

First and foremost, West Papuan’s indigenous peoples need to have a prominent seat at the table as the future of the province is planned.

*West Papua generally refers to all of the western half of Papua New Guinea island administered by Indonesia. West Papua, as referred to in this article, also applies to the smaller western province of the island as opposed to the larger Papua province.  This article article is republished from Mongabay – “News and inspiration from nature’s frontline”. Bernadinus Steni is secretary of the Institut Inovasi Bumi and Daniel Nepstad is the executive director of Earth Innovation Institute.

1. As part of the draft regulation for a Sustainable Development Province (Ranperdasus Provinsi Pembangunan Berkelanjutan), the government has established the following targets: 1. Local governments and stakeholders ensure that the use of clean, renewable energy reaches 50 percent with the period of 20 years from the enactment of this local regulation; 2. Local governments commit to reduce the rate of deforestation by 80 percent of the average rate of deforestation and degradation in 2009; 3. With a minimum period of 20 years from the enactment of this special autonomy regulation, as much as 50 percent of forests will be managed sustainably; 4. Local governments are obliged to protect a minimum of 80 percent of important habitats and 50 percent of every type of ecosystem; and for coastal and marine areas: Local governments are obliged to preserve a minimum of 30 percent of coastal areas and waters as Water Conservation Areas that include a minimum of 20 percent of the area as No Take Zones within a specific period considering ecological attributes.

2. Inovasi Bumi (INOBU) and Earth Innovation Institute, supported by the Norad-financed Forest, Farms and Finance Initiative, supported the drafting and initial consultations for the draft special autonomy regulation on the recognition of indigenous peoples (Ranperdasus Pengakuan Masyarakat Hukum Adat Papua di Provinsi Papua Barat). The regulation is the first step towards recognizing the land rights of indigenous peoples, as the existence of customary groups must be acknowledged first.

John Watts (INOBU, EII), Silvia Irawan (INOBU, EII) and Triyoga Widiastomo (INOBU) contributed to this Commentary; funding was provided by NORAD and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Refugees, journalist detention in Nauru ‘overshadow Pacific issues’

Support was widespread for journalist Barbara Dreaver’s detention at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru earlier this month. But, reports Maxine Jacobs for Asia Pacific Journalism, some commentators argue journalists should abide by their host nation’s reporting regulations and the Nauru refugee crisis is not as important to Pacific nations as it is to New Zealand and Australia.

While controversy dogged Nauru’s detention of TVNZ Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver during the Pacific Islands Forum earlier this month, some critics question how the reporting “overshadowed” climate change and other critical Pacific issues.

New Zealand journalists have expressed their outrage against the holding of Dreaver during the summit, but Massey University’s Pasifika director Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi says reporting of important issues discussed at the forum was sidelined by attention focused on media freedom.

“Because of what happened to Barbara Dreaver, and the lack of access to refugees, it was kind of a distraction and it detracted from maybe covering the main business at the forum,” he says.

READ MORE: Barbara Dreaver: Mana counts in the Pacific


Dr Koloamatangi says issues such as climate change, regional security, immigration and trade are significant concerns for the Pacific and the forum.

However, these issues had been “outmatched by the spotlight” on Dreaver and Nauru’s refugee camps.


“The refugee issue is probably not as important in the Pacific as it is in New Zealand and Australia, that’s really the reality of the situation.

People here and Australia have a lot of time to be concerned about the refugees in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, but unfortunately for Pacific Islanders themselves there are other pressing issues like poverty and domestic violence, third world diseases and so on that they are probably more concerned about.”

Detained, released and then reinstated TVNZ Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver … Nauru government “displeased” with NZ reporting on the refugee issue. Image: Barbara Dreaver/Twitter

Highly sensitive
Dr Koloamatangi says the refugee issue is a highly sensitive one for Nauru.

He says he does not condone limiting press freedom, but it is a sensitive and complicated issue which needs to be looked at from many points of view.

“All journalists need to be respectful of the laws and regulations of the countries where they work…but on the other hand you have people who have decided that this is the way they’re going to work, regardless of the fact that they will be punished by the law.

“Some of them have been to prison, so it’s a choice.

“Obviously when Barbara decided not to follow the directions given by the Nauruan government she was obviously taking a risk, and with risk come possibilities of penalties and punishment…but it’s what makes her the quality journalist that she is.”

Nauru issued a statement explaining Dreaver’s detention by police, saying her accreditation and access for the Pacific Islands Forum had been revoked due to a breach in visa terms, but was reinstated the next day.

Dreaver said the interview she held with a refugee was outside a restaurant, not inside a camp.

Detained three hours
However during the interview she said she was questioned by police and held at a police station for three hours for breaching her visa.

“I was under the impression, and I know, we were allowed to talk to refugees. I think it probably shows that things are a wee but sensitive here. In fact, a lot sensitive.”

Nauru’s statement said the government expected media to portray the detention of Dreaver as preventing press freedom.

“We have only asked for co-operation from the media in order to preserve public safety, and this is not unreasonable.”

Nauru President Baron Waqa said media attending the forum were not interested issues in the Pacific – only issues for their own nations and they should have had a stronger focus on the forum.

“How many leaders here? But we’re having to deal with these other issues which do not even touch on the concerns of the Pacific and the rest of the leaders. It disappoints us,” he said.

“Don’t tell me about refugees being an issue. How can it be an issue for Tonga, for Kiribati? No, it’s an issue for Australia and for all those refugee advocates out there.”

‘Selling news’
President Waqa said journalists were invited and came to Nauru to report on the forum but chose to report on other issues on the island.

He said the “media are impressing your will on us” and “sell our news”.

However, Radio New Zealand journalist Gia Garrick, who reported on the forum, rejected the President’s statement.

“Sell the stories? For money? Well, being part of [public broadcaster] RNZ I would completely refute that.

“It’s kind of a double standard from the President because on the first day he invited journalists to go and talk to refugees in the community, saying things along the lines of the refugees here live harmoniously, they live in the community, we’re not going to stop access to them, we invite you to talk to them and you’re more than welcome.”

A journalist who attended the forum provided Pacific Media Centre with the guidelines issued to journalists covering the event which states:

“You are only authorised to report on, or take photos or videos of, the PIF (Pacific Islands Forum). Any other subjects must be approved by the RON (Republic of Nauru).”

Mixed messages
Garrick said journalists were sent mixed messages from the get go because guidelines were vague and as the refugee situation was raised at the forum it was not clear what the restrictions were.

“There was no way a set of very vague visa guidelines and a direction from the media person was going to stop us from reporting the story.

“We still covered the forum as we would previous years, but there was also the matter of the refugees, the 900 refugees that they were keeping in detention centres on the island.”

New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) supported Dreaver after her detention by Nauru police, stating in a release that her detention was unacceptable.

MFAT spokesperson Todd McClay said: “Freedom of the press is a fundamental part of any democracy and journalists must be free to tell important stories.”

Union E Tū, stood by the TVNZ Pacific correspondent, welcoming the support shown by MFAT, while challenging Australia for its alleged role in her detention.

“This is a story of huge public interest to audiences across the world and Barbara did not shy away from tackling it, even though it has always been clear authorities in both Nauru and Australia are not keen on a light being shone on the issue, E Tū said.

“While Barbara was detained by Nauru police, Australia too must take some responsibility for this attack on press freedom.”

Maxine Jacobs is a postgraduate student journalist on the Asia Pacific Journalism Studies course at AUT University.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Climate change tops action at Forum in spite of Canberra’s resistance

Nauru … host nation of the 49th Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit. Image: John Pulu/Tagata Pasifika

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Climate change, labour mobility and West Papua are some of the issues that Vanuatu played a key part in discussions during this week’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit meeting in Nauru.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ralph Regenvanu, who was part of Vanuatu’s delegation attending the just-ended Forum meeting, said the issue that was discussed more than anything else was climate change, reports the Vanuatu Daily Post.

He said there was a bit of tension as all Pacific Island Countries recognise that climate change is the single biggest threat to the survival of Pacific people but one member of the Forum does not recognise that it is a threat and is not taking any action on it.

READ MORE: Australia signs declaration on Pacific climate ‘threat’ – islands call on US to return to Paris deal


That member is Australia.

The United States, a dialogue partner of the Forum, has similar views on climate change to Australia in terms of not sticking to the Paris Agreement.


Regenvanu said Australia’s stand may be due largely to Australian domestic politics, the Daily Post reports.

He said all Pacific island countries in the Forum were moving in one direction on climate change – and Australia alone in the other direction.

Another issue Vanuatu was part of in Nauru were the agreements signed with Australia for the next stage of labour mobility to get semiskilled ni-Vanuatu to work in hospitality and aged care sectors as well as an agreement to allow Vanuatu to test certain medicines used in hospitals in Vanuatu in Australian laboratories.

On the issue of West Papua, Regenvanu said a resolution would be put before the UN General Assembly next year for West Papua – or what used to be called the Netherland New Guinea’s case – to be re-enlisted with the UN Decolonisation Committee.

He said he had informed his foreign affairs minister colleagues in Samoa last month that Vanuatu would be be tabling the resolution in the United Nations.

He called on Pacific Island countries to support the resolution.

Regenvanu said only Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Australia were not in support of the West Papua proposal.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Indonesia risks ending up with a doomed ‘can’t-do’ climate plan

By Warief Djajanto Basorie

Three hundred schoolchildren from the greater Jakarta area sat on a red carpet covering the cavernous Soedjarwo auditorium—named to honour the country’s first forestry minister—at the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry in January this year.

They were there to participate in the government-led Climate Festival; the theme was “Three Years of Climate Change Achievements”.

Dr Nur Masripatin, the then Director General of Climate Change (she stepped down in February 2018), tossed the kids a question on climate change: what will become of Indonesia if nothing is done about climate change by 2030?

An elementary schoolboy said the country would become hotter and drier. Another two students added to his answer, talking about global warming and the greenhouse gases that lead to climate change.

The director-general beamed broadly. Dr Nur Masripatin, who has a PhD in forest biometrics from Canterbury University in New Zealand, has been a veteran negotiator for Indonesia at the annual United Nations climate conference since 2005.

Indonesia is a country of islands, with a majority of the population living along coasts vulnerable to climate change, she explained to the assembled pupils. The government hopes that such an event will equip children with information on climate change that they’ll carry into adulthood.


Reaching Indonesia’s targets
The event also sought to inform the public on the progress made in implementing international agreements and national policies, such as the Paris Agreement and the Nationally Determined Contribution, related to climate change. Government projects such as this one are only deemed successful if the people meant to benefit from the project feel that they have a stake in the issue, and commit to seeing it through.

The Paris Agreement, reached at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015, is a legally binding international contract to limit global warming “well below” 2˚C, through lowering carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and the degrading of forests. The ultimate aim is zero carbon emissions worldwide by 2050.

In undertaking to realise the Paris Agreement, Indonesia’s Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC, sets a target of cutting emissions by 29 percent against a “business as usual” scenario (in which no planned action is taken) and by 41 percent with international cooperation. This climate action plan is due to be implemented from 2020 to 2030.

One of the many documents handed out to participants of the Climate Festival was the country’s NDC Implementation Strategy, listing nine programmes with assigned activities spanning from ownership and commitment development to implementation and review. Also included was an academic paper on the draft government regulation for climate change.

The festival, and its accompanying books, talks, and handout material produced by the director general and her team, outlines an ambitious climate agenda. Yet what’s not covered is interesting, too.

While the NDC Implementation Strategy cites projected greenhouse gas emission levels, it does not provide details on whether, or how much, emissions have already been reduced since 2011, when the government issued its national action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020. Nor does the NDC explain the formula it uses to reduce emissions in the five slated sectors: land-use, energy, IPPU (industrial processes and product use), agriculture and waste. The first two sectors alone produced 82 percent of the country’s carbon emissions in 2010–2012.

Despite its absence in the Climate Festival’s documents, information on emission reduction is provided by the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas). From 2010–2017, Indonesia has cut greenhouse gas emission by only 13.46 percent. It’s a figure the Indonesian government aren’t eager to publicise—it’s a long way from their target. The government doesn’t officially state how much carbon emissions has been reduced because the NDC does not start until 2020, a government official explained.

“The government shall regularly provide emission reduction achievements in line with the NDC target it has committed to after Indonesia ratified the Paris Agreement. This is in line with our commitment to the NDC up to 2030. The information can be accessed in SIGN SMART prepared by the Environment and Forestry Ministry,” says Dr Agus Justianto, Head of the Ministry’s Agency for Research, Development and Innovation.

A major emitter of greenhouse gases
According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), Indonesia is the world’s sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and the largest contributor of forest-based emissions—an unsurprising fact if one thinks back to the devastating forest and peat fires in 2014 and 2015. Images from the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released in 2014 and 2015 show dense smoke blanketing parts of the country and its neighbours. Those two years were exceptionally bad, but such burning takes place annually.

In September 2017, WRI Indonesia published a 36-page working paper on how Indonesia can achieve its climate change mitigation goal. The organisation found that existing policies in the land-use and energy sectors, even if fully implemented, are inadequate if the country is really serious about reaching the 29% target by 2030. Using its own methodology, WRI Indonesia estimated that the existing policies would only result in a 19% reduction.

A failure to achieve its mitigation target means that Indonesia won’t be able to contribute its declared share in global fulfillment of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Rethinking policies
Reaching the NDC goal would require revisiting existing policies, particularly in agriculture and energy.

In agriculture, the government wants to double the output of the highly lucrative oil palm by 2020. This would require the clearing of more forest and peatland to add to the 14 million hectares of oil palm plantations already present in the country—a move that would surely lead to more carbon emissions. The policy also undermines a forest moratorium, in place since 2011, on the issuing of permits to convert primary forest and peatland to oil palm plantations, pulp and paper estates and other land-use change activities.

Dr Agus denies any planned clearing of peatland, insisting that the moratorium is still in place. What the government wants to increase, he stresses, is productivity per hectare on existing oil palm plantations.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo also has a plan to boost the country’s energy capacity by 35,000 megawatts during his current term, which comes to an end in 2019. Only 2000 megawatts of that energy will come from renewable energy; 20,000 megawatts will come from coal-fired plants, another major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Oil and gas, as well as hydropower, will provide the rest.

This matter of generating 20,000 megawatts of energy from coal-fired plants was put to Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister for National Development Planning and Head of Bappenas, at the Southeast Asia Symposium jointly organised by Oxford University and the University of Indonesia’s School of Environmental Science.

The “best solution”, advocated by environmentalists, would be to phase coal-fired plants out completely and embrace renewable energy sources. It’s in line with the call of the “Powering Past Coal” alliance, a partnership of over 20 governments who intend to move away from coal. No Southeast Asian government has joined the alliance thus far.

Brodjonegoro, a former dean of the University of Indonesia’s School of Economics, replied that Indonesia’s plan relies on the “second-best solution”: new coal-fired power plants will use clean coal technology, and that renewable energy, such as solar, wind or biomass, will be developed for isolated areas that are not yet part of the country’s power grid. Energy is required for economic growth, he argued, and Indonesia has abundant coal deposits to meet that energy need.

But Indonesia might not need as much energy as policymakers initially thought. According to the Electricity Supply Business Plan 2018-2027 drafted by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, a projection in Indonesia’s additional power needs dropped from 78 gigawatts under the 2017–2026 plan to 56 gigawatts in the 2018–2027 plan. The decrease was due to overestimating the growth in demand; if the government had followed through with the initial plan, it would end up overspending by building unused power plants.

Plans are also underway to increase the portion of renewable energy—while renewable energy only provided 12.52 percent of Indonesia’s energy in 2017, it’s expected to rise to 23 percent in 2025. Coal is expected to decline as a source of energy from 58.3 percent in 2017 to 54.4 percent in 2025. But environmental groups say it’s still not good enough.

“Many nations like India, China and even Saudi Arabia have altered their investment direction to renewable energy, whereas Indonesia still depends on coal for more than 50 percent of its power source,” said Hindun Mulaika, Greenpeace Indonesia’s climate and energy campaigner, in a recent press release.

Other organisations have called for more ambitious action from the Indonesian government. Germanwatch and Climate Action Network pointed out in their 2018 Climate Change Performance Index that Indonesia has the potential to further develop renewable energy, particularly since it has relatively large amounts of hydropower. WRI Indonesia recommended other mitigation actions, such as strengthening and extending the forest moratorium, restoring degraded forest and peatland, and implementing energy conservation efforts.

According to WRI Indonesia, increasing renewable sources in the energy mix will require implementing multiple policies, such as a carbon tax on fossil fuel power plants, the replacement of coal-fired plants with wind or solar sources, and the provision of subsidies for the promotion of renewable energy.

Indonesia already has bilateral and multilateral agreements for cooperation in climate change, such as an accord with Norway signed in 2010, where the Scandinavian country pledged up to USD1 billion for “significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and peatland conversion”. The financial contribution is made based on a verified emissions reduction mechanism. However, an influential coal lobby makes it difficult for the country to take bolder steps away from coal power plants.

A target that cannot be achieved
As it stands, Indonesia’s 29 percent NDC target is not achievable, says a government technocrat.

“It is not based on what sectors knew, what the energy sector knew, what the road transport sector knew. No one has reliable data. Everyone has some sense of statistics,” says the technocrat, who has asked to remain anonymous as he’s not authorised to speak to the press.

The distinction between data and statistics is an important one—while statistics present a snapshot of one aspect of an issue, data is a real mapping of what exists, providing a more holistic picture. A good NDC should have reliable data from every sector, disaggregated to show the reality in each of Indonesia’s 465 sub-national districts and town governments. While there might be a political aspect to this process, politics should not be dominant, the official added.

“No one has reliable data. Everyone has some sense of statistics”

The lack of data is a big problem with a major impact on the way targets have been set. The government arrived at the 29% target via inter-sectoral meetings where each of the five mitigation sectors (energy, land-use, industry, agriculture, waste) stated how far they were willing to go in terms of reductions. But if the various groups only have “some sense of statistics” without actual reliable data, the targets set could easily be off the mark.

Hopes for a future generation
Indonesia’s climate future is not bleak; there’s still hope for significant progress moving forward. Beyond government policy and programmes, numerous civil society organisations are actively working on the issue.

One example is Climate Reality Indonesia, which had a booth at the Climate Festival. Its members, who have participated in Al Gore’s climate course, are from all walks of life: students, academics, public officials, business people, homemakers, journalists, artists, clerics. They’re committed to spreading climate awareness among their own circles to encourage a ripple effect that will increase public knowledge across the country.

“Climate change can be viewed from different angles: water, air, marine resources, forests, agriculture, energy, education, laws. Hence it’s important to break down the issue of interest to understand the ground sentiment,” says Amanda Katili Niode, manager of Climate Reality Indonesia.

There are signs that the public are interested. In 2015, a survey by the Pew Research Centre found that 63 percent of the country supported limiting greenhouse gas emissions as part of an international agreement. Climate Reality Indonesia is thus working on creating visual materials on specific climate change impacts and solutions to use in their outreach programmes.

Following Climate Change Director General Nur Masripatin’s session, Hidayatun Nisa, a 24-year-old university graduate, delivered a rousing speech before the assembled schoolchildren. She told them about her work as a facilitator in the Care of Peat Village project run by the Peat Restoration Agency in a village in Jambi province on the east coast of central Sumatra, calling on students to study how to protect the environment for a better future.

“I do hope the children can learn to be sensitive to living things and protect the environment where they live. This also applies to their parents as the educational process that has the greatest effect is the education at home,” says Nisa.

Without a change in gear for a more ambitious and robust emphasis on renewable energy and the safeguarding of the environment, Indonesia’s climate change ambitions could end up amounting to little more than a can’t-do plan. As it is, the current generation is already not on track to meet its own stipulated goals. If the country does not undertake a course correction soon, today’s Indonesian children will find themselves having to pick up the slack in the future.

Warief Djajanto Basorie is a contributor to New Naratif, an independent research and journalism publication. He has reported for the domestic KNI News Service in Jakarta 1971-1991 and concurrently was Indonesia correspondent for the Manila-based DEPTHnews Asia (DNA, 1974-1991). DNA is a feature service reporting on development in Asia for Asian media in English and the vernacular. This article is republished under a Creative Commons licence.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Elisabeth Holland: Pacific climate change persistence – we’re all in the same canoe

The University of the South Pacific’s environmental centre spearheading climate change research believes in working together for shared solutions, says Professor Elisabeth Holland.  Video: Pacific Media Centre’s Bearing Witness project

INTERVIEW: Lars Ursin of 2°C talks to Elisabeth Holland

The Pacific Islands are already struggling with the consequences of climate change. But they are not giving in. Instead, they have become a force to be reckoned with in international climate diplomacy. How did that happen?

2°C: How are the Pacific Islands experiencing the effects of global warming today?

Elisabeth Holland: Tropical cyclone Winston’s 40-metre waves, that is one thing. The devastating peak winds of both tropical cyclones Pam and Winston, and the destructive storm surges they brought. The fact that recovery after Winston amounted to 30 percent of Fiji’s GDP. Also in Fiji, 676 of around 1800 villages have already said they need to move. Not just from storm surges, but from repeated inundation due to rising sea level or changing storm patterns. Or coastal erosion generated by storm surges and rising sea levels.

In Fiji, we now recommend that all newly married couples move to higher ground. This is because it is tradition to build new housing for newlyweds to give the communities a head start on the inevitable transition. The transitions needs to happen in a methodical, well-organised way with community buy-in.

What areas of the Pacific Islands are most vulnerable to further climate change?


That would be Tuvalu, Kiribati, The Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tokelau. What they have in common, is a maximum elevation of 3 metres. They are along with the Maldives part of what is called the Coalition of Low Lying Atoll Nations on Climate Change.

Days after Cyclone Winston made landfall on Fiji’s largest island Viti Levu in February 2016, this was what was left of the Rakiraki Market. It used to house more than 200 vendors, but was devastated by the cyclone’s record-breaking winds. Pacific Islanders fear global warming will yield even more frequent and devastating storms in the future. Image: Anna Parinicbnd/UN Women

What is the outlook for the people living on these islands?

The new government of New Zealand is considering setting new immigration policy for their Pacific Island neighbours. Fiji is the only country which has said it would receive climate displaced refugees from the Pacific. Three countries, The Federated States of Micronesia, The Marshall Islands and Palau are part of the Compact of Free Association with the United States and eligible for US passports giving them the right to live, work and study in the USA. Migration, already underway, is to Hawai’i where the provision of some basic services can discriminate against people from these areas.

What practical measures are taken to prevent escalating damage?

There are several issues. Most important is what communities need today to be vibrant and healthy: Fresh water. So, for example, we have provided water tanks and reticulated water systems for more than 12.000 people, funded by the EU. Many of the Pacific Island countries have just begun to access the Green Climate Fund. Tuvalu residents refuse to leave, they say they will adapt. Their funds will be focused on coastal stabilisation, such as sea walls. Marshall Islands are considering which islands to sacrifice to protect the remaining islands. Tokelau has just gotten green climate funding. They are making similar decisions.

‘Migration with dignity’
And Kiribati, under president Anote Tong, a vocal climate spokesperson, has advocated “migration with dignity”. He is focused on ensuring that his population is as well-educated as possible, while at same time taking adaptative measures. Tokelau, by the way, claim to be first 100% renewable energy country, under a project funded by New Zealand.

At the Paris negotiations, you were ringside when the Pacific Islands announced an the High Ambition Coalition with the US and EU, that eventually paved the way for the Paris Agreement. Can you explain what happened?

First, when the High Ambition Coaltion was made public on Tuesday of the second week of negotiations, it was actually forged – in secrecy – during the Cartagena-dialogue earlier in the year. That strategy came about as a result of having learned the lessons of the failed Copenhagen negotiations when no developing country partners were part of the coalition.

That all changed in Paris. First of all, we were better prepared. We had worked with the French Embassy in preparing for the Paris COP. We had worked with the Fijian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Pacific leaders to draft the Suva declaration on Climate Change. The Pacific leaders drafted more than 10 declarations in the lead up to Paris. And still, we were plagued with self-doubt. I remember I met the Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, on the airport on the way to Paris. She said: “I am afraid we haven’t done our strategic homework”. My reply was “I hope you are wrong”. And in the end, it took a lot of patience and persistence, and the determination of Pacific leaders.

In the Paris COP, I was a delegate for the Solomon Islands. My job was to make sure they had the best science available. So on Monday of the second week, during the high-level negotiations, I sat all night doing calculations for 1.5°C. And the results were upsetting, because it showed that we had less than 10 years before the 1.5 C goal was unattainable. Our press conference on the 1.5°C target was held at the same time as the Minister Tony deBrum’s announcement of the High Ambition Coalition.

However, in addition to representing the Solomon Islands, I was also informing the rest of the Pacific delegations. Also, a lot of my former students were now delegates – 20 in total – both for the Solomon Islands, but also with various other states. In addition, twice a year, I am invited by the secretariat of the ACP – a group of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states – to present the science to the ACP ambassadors in Brussels.

So, when I was approached by Pendo Maro, the climate coordinator for the EU ACP secretariat, we marched across the Paris campus, I knew we had 79 countries in my pocket. By the end of Wednesday, 100 countries had signed onto the High Ambition Coation.

Imagine: After all the drafting had been done in Paris, Tony deBrum walked into the room, flanked by the EU and US lead climate negotiators, and they were given a standing ovation. That is the level of support they enjoyed. Because each of the Pacific countries had done their best in pulling in their respective coalitions. And I had no idea what I was doing at the time. I Just knew that when I was invited by the ACP to present the science, I had to do the best I could to deliver the message as clearly as I could.

This time around, all were committed to stand together. There were no breakaways.
Generally, in diplomatic negotiations like this, big countries like China or India will try to divide one Pacific Island off. But this time around, all were committed to stand together, to stand with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). There were no breakaways. We had the leadership of Fiji in the Subsidiary Body for Implementation. Three vocal spokespersons in addition. Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of Tuvalu. Minister deBrum of the Marshall Islands. President Anote Tong of Kiribati. Because they were most vulnerable countries, the rest of the Pacific let them carry the torch and word out to the rest of the world. But every other Pacific country was behind them, doing their negotiations, backing the high points.

What role have the nations of the South Pacific played since?

In Morocco, Fiji was given the COP23 presidency, and there have been a number of accomplishments under that presidency. One is the Indigenous Peoples’ Platform. A second one was the Gender Action Plan. And, finally, the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance. But in addition to all of this, oceans are now being included in the climate negotiations.

What do you mean by that?

If you look in the text of the Paris Agreement, the word “oceans” is named only once. And yet, we all know how important oceans are in the global climate system. Therefore, we have worked to ensure that there is an Ocean Pathway, to make sure the ocean is featured more prominently in the negotiations to come. Diplomacy is never fast, but because Fiji was also president of the UN in 2017, and we had the UN Oceans Conference in 2017, this was a unique opportunity.

This is of course important to the island states of the South Pacific, whose very livelihood depends on the ocean. But it is also a point of confluence with Norway’s positions. Norway has oceans and climate as a priority as well.

And finally, the COP presidency will be handed over to Poland at COP24 in Katowice. However, Poland has asked Fiji to play a role going forwards, to help see the Talanoa facilitative dialogue through.

Speaking of which: Can you briefly explain the Talanoa dialogue and what it is meant to achieve?

There is a great description of it at the COP23 website. But essentially it is this: When people in a Fijian community want to come to a resolution, they convene a meeting. That meeting is called a Talanoa. Everybody comes as equal partners, respected, and in anticipation of being heard. It is done in a circle, generally kava is served to honour everybody. All participants’ views and perspectives are put on the table. And together, participants weave the cloth of the way forward.

This is an idealised description, of course. But it comes from the principle that we are all in the same canoe. And it is the Talanoa that will lay the foundation for the Paris rulebook, and the process called the global stock take. That is a key part in the five-year review process: Taking stock of emissions and comparing them to the temperature targets. And then, based on that, deciding on commitments and the way forward.

But can you actually produce results through that type of process?

Remember, Fiji is a country of less than 850,000 people. And yet, it is by way of the principles of participating in Talanoa that they achieved their role as both president of the UN and COP-president at the same time. So, does that mean that they have a better long term strategic focus?

In the year before, in 2016, Fiji also won an Olympic gold for rugby. Rugby is a strategic game. But so is Pacific diplomacy. Because it always puts the collective first. It is a way of thinking – not about one, but about all.

Is it also about shaking up the rules of the diplomacy game, to allow countries to approach the negotiations in new ways?

The Pacific Islands rank among the very top of disaster prone countries. But they also rank with the highest happiness indices.

Absolutely. Because they know they can trust one another. There is an interesting contrast: The Pacific Islands rank among the very top of disaster prone countries, because of tropical cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis. But they also rank with the highest happiness indices. And it is not because we are rich. And definitely not because we see ourselves as victims.

Going forward from Paris, what are the greatest obstacles facing the negotiations?

The unravelling of the commitment to high ambition. That is the biggest obstacle.

How can that be overcome?

By leading by example. Whether it is us as individuals, companies, cities or nations, the principle to begin with is leading by example. When the Copenhagen negotiations fell apart, Tony deBrum walked out, and he was wearing a flowered shirt. So the press could immediately identify him as being a Pacific Islander. A reporter asked him: “Minister deBrum, are you here to save your island?” to which he responded: “No, I’m here to save the world”.

That is the thinking we need. That we as small Pacific islands can become champions, not just for ourselves, but for the planet. And that we can achieve that through leading by example. And this is also why we through generations have set aside marine protected areas. It is part of our tradition. We are truly ocean stewards.

What role has scientists such as yourself played in the actual climate negotiations up until now?

Science without strategy, without key countries committed to it, and without good legal thinking, gets you nowhere. No matter how compelling.

The science come into the negotiations in in a couple of different ways. One is through the IPCC. That is a completely separate process, and not formally connected to UNFCCC. But the UNFCCC was formulated to include science perspectives. And it does so through the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice, or SBSTA.

But science without strategy, without key countries committed to it, and without good legal thinking, gets you nowhere. No matter how compelling. That part is hard for scientists to swallow. Because diplomatic negotiations are more about relationships than they are about science.

Leading up to Paris, we had something called the Structured Expert Dialogue, and the 2013-2015 Review. The 2013-2015 Review was a compelling report. That was where they asked the scientific community to take a look at the IPCC and all the available evidence to provide guidance on things like long term temperature goals. Like 1.5°C or 2°C warming. That we did, and in the intersessional between Lima and Paris, we got 1.5°C into the formal text of the Research and Systematic Observation report. And that then became the platform by which we could push through the Structured Expert Dialogue (SED) and into the Paris Agreement. You can’t just ask for goals like that in a plenary session during negotiations, you need to work it into the other framework first.

However, the Saudis – and others – blocked the SED 2013-2015 Review report. By the end of the first week, we had no formal consensus that could have informed the Paris negotiations. But we had to close the two subsidiary bodies, SBSTA and SBI – the Subsidiary body for Implementation – to go to the second week, the high-level negotiations.

And it was not until Saturday night that first week that Amena Yauvoli, Fiji, gavelled the Structured Expert Dialogue. With that gavelling, there was a formal legal obligation for science to inform the negotiations. The text of the Paris agreement calls for for a global stocktake to be informed by “the best available science”.

So in the end science prevailed, but only because of good diplomacy and skilful negotiations. And that is something a lot of scientists find difficult to come to terms with. Which is understandable. After all, many of us were attracted to science to begin with because we are attracted to a world defined by black and white rather than grey. However, diplomacy is an exploration of the grey.

How can climate scientists contribute constructively in shaping climate policy in the future?

First, ensure the integrity of science and scientific processes. Second, participate fully in the IPCC processes. Third, make sure that the science can be “translated” and communicated so others can use it for evidence-based decision making.

And finally, understand that the science-policy interface requires time. And is challenging. And requires a lot of dialogue. That may sometimes be frustrating to scientists.

University of the South Pacific’s Professor Elisabeth Holland. Image: 2°C

Name: Elisabeth Holland
Position: Professor, University of the South Pacific, Fiji
Why: Holland is a renowned climate scientist. She has been a central figure in the international climate negotiations and has been a visiting scholar at the Bjerknes Center for Climate Research this year.

This article has been republished from the Norwegian ezine 2°C with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Strongest climate solutions ‘developed together’, says PaCE-SD chief

Blessen Tom’s video interview with PaCE-SD director Professor Elisabeth Holland in Suva. Video: PMC

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

The University of the South Pacific’s environmental centre spearheading climate change research believes in working together for shared solutions.

Director Professor Elisabeth Holland says the Pacific Centre for the Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) has a culture of quality and shared “ownership” of projects.

“Don’t assume you know what the answer is,” she says in her advice to climate change researchers.

“The strongest solutions are developed together.”

Dr Holland is a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


She is an author of four of the five IPCC reports and has also served as a US, German and now a Fiji representative.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Fiji’s first climate change village forced to move from sea to ‘promised land’

Blessen Tom’s feature drone video of Vunidogoloa.

By Hele Ikimotu with visuals by Blessen Tom

Vunidogoloa was the first village in Fiji to be relocated – barely three years ago – due to sea level rise.

The village was in the Cakaudrove province and had backyard views of beautiful Natewa Bay on Vanua Levu Island.

The relaxing life for these villagers was however dampened by the impact of sea level rise.

Flooding was common for the villagers and so they needed to be relocated.

Their new village is 2 kilometres inland and was renamed by the villagers as Kenani (“Promised Land”).


The whole village of Vunidogoloa (pop. 130) moved to their new settlement in January 2014 and now have solar lighting.

We stopped by the old “ghost” village to see where the villagers once lived and also took some photos of where they are now settled.

1. Vunidogoloa’s “front door” to Natewa Bay. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

2. Vunidogoloa … now a ghost village. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

3. Vunidogoloa … an abandoned home. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

4. Vunidogoloa … overgrown. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

5. “Slow” … the “promised land” village coming up. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

6. Kenani … the new village. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

7. Kenani Village. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

8. The aid project kudos board. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

9. Hillside Kenani.

10. More Kenani houses. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

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