Pacific ‘smart’ thinking grows creative tension between policy and research

ANALYSIS: By Professor Derrick Armstrong

A traditional view of the tension between research and policy suggests that researchers are poor at communicating their research findings to policy-makers in clear and unambiguous ways.

I am arguing that this is an outdated view of the relationship between research and policy. Science, including social science, and policy come together in many interesting and creative ways.

This does not mean that tensions between the two are dissolved but the conversation between research and policy centre as much on ideological and pragmatic issues as it does upon the strength of the scientific evidence itself.

READ MORE: The DevNet 2018 conference

Researchers are increasingly “smart” in the ways that they seek to influence public debate while policy-makers genuinely value the insights that research can provide in supporting political and policy agendas that goes beyond simply legitimating pre-existing policy choices.

For example, in climate change debates science cannot be seen simply as an arbiter of “truth” that informs policy and political decision-making. Science also plays an advocacy role in alliance with some social interests against others.


Likewise, policy can draw on science but it can also reject the evidence of science where scientific evidence is weighed against the interests of other powerful voices in the policy-process.

Oceans research and policy provides a good example of this more sophisticated relationship between science and policy and suggests some of the significant disconnects and tensions that challenge the relationship as well as how creative tensions between the two operate in practice. Three areas of disconnect can be identified.

Practical disconnection
The first of these is practical disconnection of regulation with regard to the Oceans. An integrated legal framework for the ocean might be considered critical for progress towards meeting the objectives of SDG 14 (Life under the Sea) but complexity and fragmentation present many challenges which are both sectorial and geographical.

National laws lack coordination across different ocean-related productive sectors, conservation, and areas of human wellbeing. In addition, these laws are disconnected from the regulation of land-based activities that negatively impact upon the ocean – agriculture, industrial production and waste management (including ocean plastic).

“These disconnections are compounded by limited understanding of the role of international human rights and economic law, as well as the norms of indigenous peoples, development partners and private companies.” Image: David Robie/PMC

These disconnections are compounded by limited understanding of the role of international human rights and economic law, as well as the norms of indigenous peoples, development partners and private companies.

Disconnected science is itself a problem in this area. Ocean science is still weak in most countries due to limited holistic approaches for understanding cumulative impacts of various threats to ocean health such as climate change, pollution, coastal erosion and overfishing.

Equally, scientific understanding of the effectiveness of conservation and management responses is poor, so that the productivity limits and recovery time of ecosystems cannot be easily predicted.

Even when science is making progress, effective science-policy interfaces are often poorly articulated at all levels. As a result, there are significant barriers to effectively measuring progress in reaching SDG14.

Oceans research policies rare
National oceans research policies to support sustainable development are rare. This is compounded by limited understanding of the role of different knowledge systems, notably the traditional knowledge of indigenous people.

Third, there is a disconnected dialogue. Key stakeholders, most notably the communities most dependent on ocean health, are not sufficiently involved in developing and implementing ocean management; yet, they are most disproportionately affected by their negative consequences.

More positively, there are some good examples of effective science-policy diplomacy collaborations and networks. For example, in the Pacific my own university (University of the South Pacific) has worked very effectively to support Pacific island countries, especially Fiji, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, to successfully lead arguments at the International Maritime Organisation for international commitments to reduced carbon emission targets for shipping.

Technical, scientific support has been critical to support the advocacy of Pacific leaders and their ability to mobilise wider political support.

Building the capacity to achieve such outcomes within the regions of the world that confront these problems most sharply is a significant challenge. Aid policy can play an Important role in this respect – for example, by supporting capacity building through investment in local institutions such as universities rather than funnelling aid money back into donor countries through consultancies.

The scientific dominance of the global north is every bit as disempowering and threatening as post-colonial political domination.

For countries in the developing world, capacity building in research is critical to supporting their own countries. Another good example of this is found in the High Ambition Pacific coalition led by the Marshall Islands which secured significant support from European countries and elsewhere, in their campaign for a 1.5 degrees emissions target at the COP21 meeting in Paris in 2015.

Science-policy-advocacy alliance
This coalition was a good example of a science-policy-advocacy alliance which did not come from the global north.

Scientific as well as policy collaborations between the global south and the global north are certainly possible but it also the case that scientific research and intervention in the countries of the south from the outside can very easily reinforce the political domination that politicians and policy-makers from the south so often experience in international forums and through the aid policies bestowed upon them from outside.

The aggressive assertion of the privileges of Western science to do research in developing countries at the expense of building local capacity demonstrates another side of this post-colonial experience. It is impossible to credibly talk of “giving voice to the ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘vulnerable’” where the research practices of outside researchers and their institutions cripple the ability of local researchers to speak.

Yet, researchers in the Pacific are more effectively operating at the cutting-edge of the science-policy interface than many outside the region may understand or recognise.

In our own case at USP, genuine collaboration across the boundaries of south and north have been possible but just as our leaders and our communities have had to fight against patronising notions of “vulnerability” our scientific need is to build our own capacity to effectively engage with the priorities of our own region and its people. We aim to build a scientific and research capacity that is neither dominated by or exploited from outside.

So, in summary, the tensions that have traditionally been used to characterise the science-policy interface greatly oversimplify the reality. They oversimplify it at an abstract level by whether by characterising science as disinterested or by characterising the aim of policy-makers to rational and evidence-based.

They also oversimplify the relationships within and between scientific communities, ignoring the social interests and power structures that serve the continuation, whether intentionally or not, of post-colonial domination, restricting opportunities to build scientific capacity which enables the achievement of locally determined priorities.

Professor Derrick Armstrong is deputy vice-chancellor (research, innovation and international) at the Suva-based University of the South Pacific. This was a presentation made at the concluding “creative tension” panel at the DevNet 2018 “Disruption and Renewal” conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week.

Professor Derrick Armstrong speaking with other members of the final “creative tension” panel at the DevNet 2018 development studies conference. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Most important years in history’ – last chance over climate, says UN report

Warming beyond 1.5C will unleash a frightening set of consequences and scientists say only a global transformation, beginning now, can avoid it. Climate Home News reviews the warnings in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research report released yesterday.

Only the remaking of the human world in a generation can now prevent serious, far reaching and once-avoidable climate change impacts, according to the global scientific community.

In a major report released yesterday, the UN’s climate science body found limiting warming to 1.5C, compared to 2C, would spare a vast sweep of people and life on earth from devastating impacts.

To hold warming to this limit, the scientists said unequivocally that carbon pollution must fall to “net zero” in around three decades: a huge and immediate transformation, for which governments have shown little inclination so far.

READ MORE: Global warming of 1.5C summary for policymakers


“The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” said Debra Roberts, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research into the impacts of warming.


The report from the IPCC is a compilation of existing scientific knowledge, distilled into a 33-page summary presented to governments. If and how policymakers respond to it will decide the future of vulnerable communities around the world.

“I have no doubt that historians will look back at these findings as one of the defining moments in the course of human affairs,” the lead climate negotiator for small island states Amjad Abdulla said. “I urge all civilised nations to take responsibility for it by dramatically increasing our efforts to cut the emissions responsible for the crisis.”

What happens in the next few months will impact ON the future of the Paris Agreement and the global climate

Abdulla is from the Maldives. It is estimated that half a billion people in countries like his rely on coral ecosystems for food and tourism. The difference between 1.5C and 2C is the difference between losing 70-90 percent of coral by 2100 and reefs disappearing completely, the report found.

Small island states
Small island states were part of a coalition that forced the Paris Agreement to consider both a 1.5C and 2C target. Monday’s report is a response to that dual goal. Science had not clearly defined what would happen at each mark, nor what measures would be necessary to stay at 1.5C.

As the report was finalised, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on sustainable energy Rachel Kyte praised those governments. “They had the sense of urgency and moral clarity,” she said, adding that they knew “the lives that would hang in the balance between 2[C] and 1.5[C]”.

37 things you need to know about 1.5C global warming

At 2C, stresses on water supplies and agricultural land, as well as increased exposure to extreme heat and floods, will increase, risking poverty for hundreds of millions, the authors said.

Thousands of plant and animal species would see their liveable habitat cut by more than half. Tropical storms will dump more rain from the Philippines to the Caribbean.

“Everybody heard of what happened to Dominica last year,” Ruenna Hayes, a delegate to the IPCC from St Kitts and Nevis, told Climate Home News. “I cannot describe the level of absolute alarm that this caused not only me personally, but everybody I know.”

Around 65 people died when Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island in September 2017, destroying much of it.

In laying out what needs to be done, the report described a transformed world that will have to be built before babies born today are middle aged. In that world 70-85 percent of electricity will be produced by renewables.

More nuclear power
There will be more nuclear power than today. Gas, burned with carbon capture technology, will still decline steeply to supply just supply 8 percent of power. Coal plants will be no more. Electric cars will dominate and 35-65 percent of all transport will be low or no-emissions.

To pay for this transformation, the world will have invested almost a trillion dollars a year, every year to 2050.

Our relationship to land will be transformed. To stabilise the climate, governments will have deployed vast programmes for sucking carbon from the air. That will include protecting forests and planting new ones.

It may also include growing fuel to be burned, captured and buried beneath the earth. Farms will be the new oil fields. Food production will be squeezed. Profoundly difficult choices will be made between feeding the world and fuelling it.

The report is clear that this world avoids risks compared to one that warms to 2C, but swerves judgement on the likelihood of bringing it into being. That will be for governments, citizens and businesses, not scientists, to decide.

During the next 12 months, two meetings will be held at which governments will be asked to confront the challenge in this report: this year’s UN climate talks in Poland and at a special summit held by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres in September 2019.

The report’s authors were non-committal about the prospects. Jim Skea, a co-chair at the IPCC, said: “Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”

Graphic from the IPCC’s special report on 1.5C.

‘Monumental goal’
Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a former lead author of the IPCC, said: “If this report doesn’t convince each and every nation that their prosperity and security requires making transformational scientific, technological, political, social and economic changes to reach this monumental goal of staving off some of the worst climate change impacts, then I don’t know what will.”

The scientist have offered a clear prescription: the only way to avoid breaching the 1.5C limit is for humanity to cut its CO2 emissions by 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net-zero” by around 2050.

But global emissions are currently increasing, not falling.

The EU, one of the most climate progressive of all major economies, aims for a cut of around 30 percent by 2030 compared to its own 2010 pollution and 77-94 percent by 2050. It is currently reviewing both targets and says this report will inform the decisions.

If the EU sets a carbon neutral goal for 2050 it will join a growing group of governments seemingly in line with a mid-century end to carbon – including California (2045), Sweden (2045), UK (2050 target under consideration) and New Zealand (2050).

But a fundamental tenet of climate politics is that expectations on nations are defined by their development. If the richest, most progressive economies on earth set the bar at 2045-2050, where will China, India and Latin America end up? If the EU aims for 2050, the report concludes that Africa will need to have the same goal.

Some of the tools needed are available, they just need scaling up. Renewable deployment would need to be six times faster than it is today, said Adnan Z Amin, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. That was “technically feasible and economically attractive”, he added.

Innovation, social change
Other aspects of the challenge require innovation and social change.

But just when the world needs to go faster, the political headwinds in some nations are growing. Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest, looks increasingly likely to elect the climate sceptic Jair Bolsonaro as president.

The world’s second-largest emitter – the US – immediately distanced itself from the report, issuing a statement that said its approval of the summary “should not be understood as US endorsement of all of the findings and key messages”.

It said it still it intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The summary was adopted by all governments at a closed-door meeting between officials and scientists in Incheon, South Korea that finished on Saturday. The US sought and was granted various changes to the text. Sources said the interventions mostly helped to refine the report. But they also tracked key US interests – for example, a mention of nuclear energy was included.

Sources told CHN that Saudi Arabia fought hard to amend a passage that said investment in fossil fuel extraction would need to fall by 60 percent between 2015 and 2050. The clause does not appear in the final summary.

But still, according to three sources, the country has lodged a disclaimer with the report, which will not be made public for months. One delegate said it rejected “a very long list of paragraphs in the underlying report and the [summary]”.

Republished under a Creative Commons licence.

A Nasa satellite photo showing the retreating extent of sea ice in the Arctic. The latest IPCC climate change report says unprecedented action is needed to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C. Image: IPCC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Listen to Pacific ‘voices’ or climate will spark conflict, say advocates

Policy makers, academics and NGO representatives discussed the urgent issue of climate change in the Pacific, where many communities have been forced to relocate. However, Michael Andrew of Asia Pacific Report, found that participants in last weekend’s workshop believe the Pacific voices of those most affected must be heard if conflict is to be avoided.

The gap between policy and people was a key topic at the last week’s Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop when experts from Western and Pacific countries gathered to share stories and studies.

The Auckland event – hosted by the Toda Peace Institute and the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) at the University of Otago – sought to bridge the gap by connecting Western, scientific policies with the deeply spiritual customs and beliefs of Pacific life.

Workshop facilitator and Toda director Professor Kevin Clements, who is also founding director of NCPACS, says it is an opportunity to understand Pacific perspectives and respond creatively to an existential threat.

READ MORE: The climate change workshop and policy papers


“We in New Zealand and Australia have a deep responsibility to listen,” he says.

“If we don’t understand the Pacific way of thinking, we will begin to undermine relationships in unanticipated, unconscious ways.”


Relationships were a major theme throughout the workshop, with many participants affirming the unique relationship Pacific people have with their land.

Vanua philosophy
Fijian teacher Rosiana Kushila Lagi says the traditional Fiji philosophy of Vanua reflects the absolute interconnectedness between people, land and sea.

Working in Tuvalu, Lagi is engaging communities to use the principals of Vanua to mitigate the destruction caused by climate change. The behaviour of animals, plants and the weather are all useful indicators of environmental change and can be used to prepare for extreme events.

However, she says many communities are losing this traditional knowledge when they are physically separated from the land, something that also contributes to a loss of identity.

Participants of the Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop in Auckland last weekend. Image: Lynley Brown

Tuvaluan minister Tafue Lusama shared a similar perspective, stressing the importance of traditional knowledge in the Tuvalu way of life.

“Indigenous knowledge is the way we focus our relationship to everything, to the land, to the sea, to each other and to all living things,” he says.

“It is our way to communicate with the clouds, birds, plants, animals; this includes communicating with the spirits of our ancestors.”

With an average height of 2m above sea level, Tuvalu is particularly vulnerable to the affects of climate change. Rising sea levels not only threaten property but also food and water sources.

Storm surges
Storm surges can sweep inland, flooding deep-rooted crops like taro and coconut and contaminating fresh water reservoirs.

Yet for many communities who have already relocated, the struggles of adjusting to a new home can be just as harsh.

Discussed at the workshop were the people from the diminishing Carteret Islands, who in recent years have been relocated to land donated by the Catholic Church on mainland Bougainville.

Managed by grassroots organisation Tulele Peisa, the initiative sees every family given a hectare of land on which they can live and grow crops for trade and sustenance.

While the relocation project has been considered successful, there are concerns for the Cataract Islanders living in a region recovering from a bloody civil war over the Panguna copper mine. Even today, violence is widespread.

According to Volker Boege, a peace and conflict academic who has worked extensively in the region, there have been reports of attacks on the Carteret Islanders and their property.

He says this has a lot to do with tribal competition over limited land, much of which is customary.

Establishing relationships
“Before the relocation, Tulele Peisa put in a lot of work establishing relationships with the Bougainville community and engaging in discussions with the chiefs. Nevertheless, land is scarce,” Boege says.

“The policies don’t take into account the complexities between the indigenous people and the fighting that can occur between tribes when relocated.”

Despite predictions that the Carteret Islands will be completely underwater by 2040, he says some of the people are choosing to return home from Bougainville.

For these people giving up home, identity and starting a new life in a foreign land is simply too much to ask.

While other Pacific communities are on the list for relocation, there was a commitment among the workshop participants to factor in the values, customs and wishes of both the relocating and the receiving communities into any polices moving forward.

Future collaboration between the many organisations present would also allow an inclusive, dynamic approach where information could be easily shared from the top down and vice versa, connecting the grassroots to the researchers and policy makers.

Ideal outcome
For Paulo Baleinakorodawa, this was an ideal outcome of the workshop. As operations manager of Fiji-based NGO Transcend Oceania, he has worked extensively with relocated and relocating communities, resolving conflict and trying to make the process as peaceful as possible.

However, he says that plans for cross-organisation collaboration have stalled prior to the workshop.

“I was hoping that coming in here I would find an opportunity to actually push that into more actions,” he says.

“It’s been wonderful because there has been a lot of information, a lot of networking and commitment from people that are actually doing something about climate change.”

“And so now Toda, Transcend Oceania, the Pacific Conference of Churches, and the Pacific Centre for Peace Building are going to be partnering together to continue that project.”

While climate change and its affects will only continue to worsen, the workshop was an encouraging show of unity and compassion that will be needed if further suffering in Pacific is to be prevented.

Most importantly, it opened an essential conversation in which the many different voices could be heard.

“This is only the beginning of that conversation,” says Baleinakorodawa.

Michael Andrew is a student journalist on the Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies (Journalism) reporting on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University.

Professor Kevin Clements facilitating the Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop. Image: Michael Andrew/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific student uncertainties over climate impact outweighs Fiji poll

Final year University of the South Pacific student journalist Elizabeth Osifelo, from the Solomon Islands, has witnessed the rise in sea level each time she travels home from Suva. Image: PIFS/Wansolwara

Climate change issues seem to loom larger than the impending Fiji general election in the minds of University of the South Pacific students. Pacific Media Centre’s Sri Krishnamurthi speaks to students about their thoughts.

COP23, which refers to the 23rd annual Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), and Fiji holding the presidency over the last year is the reason university students in Fiji are alarmed at the rapid changes in their environment.

“As someone from the Pacific, there is a strong concern about climate change. The thing which I see in the Pacific as part of climate change is the burden that it is not of our own doing, but unfortunately, we are the losers who are putting it out there,” says Mohammed Ahmed, a Bachelor of Arts student at the regional University of the South Pacific.

“For example, in one of the conventions in which all the countries are represented, there is a decision made to reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent.


“To countries like China and America, which are industrial nations, that’s applicable but to a country in the Pacific which has a substantially insignificant carbon footprint that wouldn’t apply.”

Climate change is foremost on the minds of USP students rather than an impending Fiji general election that has still not had a declared date.

USP Bachelor of Arts student Mohammed Ahmed … “climate change is a burden not of our doing.” Image: Sri Krishnamurthi/PMC/Wansolwara

Koroi Tadulala, a final-year journalism student, is deeply concerned about what climate change means for his generation.


“For the young generation, the issue today is climate change because there is strong focus on Fiji,” he said.

“One of the major highlights that I want to point out is the presidency [held by the Prime Minister of Fiji, Voreqe Bainimarama] of COP23 last year, its Fiji’s advocacy on climate change, and the talanoa concept that was developed and has now become a global thing.

Talanoa dialogue
“I am very concerned about the environment. I took part in the talanoa dialogue. I was at COP23 in Bonn, Germany, as a youth ambassador.

“It was really interesting because we got a global perspective in one confined space. We had leaders brainstorming solutions and innovative ways which we can combat this global issue.”

Regardless of the politics of Fiji, he had nothing but praise for the way his Prime Minister handled himself on the world stage.

“I’d say he has delivered very well as president of COP23. He still continues to fight climate change and he remains active about the issue.”

It worries Elizabeth Osifelo, who hails from the Solomon Islands, because she observes the rising sea levels each time she goes home from Suva.

“I am concerned because I come from a low-lying area, which is by the sea. I always go back home during Christmas and every time I go back, year after year, I can see changes,” she said.

There are similar concerns voiced for the environment in the Solomon Islands.

Eliminating plastic
“I know a lot of Pacific Island nations are in the process of eliminating plastic bags and rubbish like in Fiji and Vanuatu, which has taken the lead in banning plastic bags.

“I hope that the Solomon Islands will come that soon so that we are more active in the way we look after our environment,” she said.

Kritika Rukmani from the nearby tourism mecca of Pacific Harbour could not put it more succinctly.

“I am very passionate about climate change. We, as an island nation, should be concerned because we are very small compared with other countries. We will sink at a faster rate than anyone else,” she said.

Adi Anaseini Civavonovono believes that individuals cannot shirk their responsibility and leave it all to the authorities or the private investors.

“How we look after the environment is up to individuals we cannot depend on government initiatives or climate change financiers. Climate change is a concern not only for Fiji but for the Pacific region because we are the most affected,” she summed up.

Auckland speaker Aneet Kumar, a student working and studying at USP, takes a wider view on climate change. Image: Sri Krishnamurthi/PMC/Wansolwara

Keynote speaker
Having travelled near and far in the past two years and being involved in the NGO sector, Aneet Kumar was invited to Auckland last month to be the keynote speaker at the Peace Foundation’s Auckland Secondary Schools’ Symposium.

Working and studying at the USP, he takes a wider view on the subject.

“As a young person who has been to a number of countries, I can say Fiji has made significant progress in terms of representations on international bodies and agencies like the United Nations. That is one way of dealing with threats to our futures,” said Kumar.

“This week I was reading about our permanent representative to the UN [Satyendra Prasad], who had raised his concerns at the UN Security Council’s Peaceful Mediation process, on the importance of the UN Security Council to consider rigorously and debate climate change issues and issue of disputes between countries. Hopefully something good comes out of it.”

Perhaps the last words on the touchy topic for students comes from Mohammed Ahmed who aptly sums up, “As a person that is concerned about climate change, we have talked a lot but we have dragged our feet as well”.

Sri Krishnamurthi is a journalist and Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student at Auckland University of Technology. He is attached to The University of the South Pacific journalism programme, filing for USP’s Wansolwara News and the AUT Pacific Media Centre’s Asia Pacific Report.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Healers, not harmers’ – Climate Warriors present COP23 declaration

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: ‘Healers, not harmers’ – Climate Warriors present COP23 declaration

“We all stand together as one family” … Pacific Climate Warriors Declaration on Climate Change presented at COP23. Image: 350 Pacific

Climate activists from across the Pacific region have presented a declaration on climate change to key Pacific environmental leaders at COP23.

The Pacific Climate Warriors Declaration on Climate Change, part of 350’s Have Your Sei campaign, was signed by more than 23,000 people and called on world leaders to take effective action on climate change by placing the voice of the people above that of the fossil fuel industry.

350 Pacific’s Pacific Climate Warriors made the bold call in September to ensure the region’s leadership on climate change was recognised and the Pacific’s voice heard.

Similar calls were made at the talanoa gathering place in the Bonn Zone.

The Samoa Planet reports the group’s Tokelauan representative challenged the rest of the world to follow the nation’s example of the first to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy, a transition which is called for in the declaration.

“We all stand together as one family,” they said, and continued with a call to “Kick the big polluters out of climate talks,” Lani Wendt Young reports.

The call echoed a plea made by the Pacific Climate Warriors on the eve of COP23 to end the era of fossil fuels.


‘Healers, not harmers’
The declaration was printed on tapa cloth, with framed copies presented to key Pacific environment leaders, including Francois Martel, the Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Development Forum and the former President of Kiribati and global advocate and climate warrior, Anote Tong on Wednesday.

The presentation opened with a lotu and blessing offered by climate warrior, Reverend James, who prayed for an increased spiritual awareness of the earth and ocean.

“May we be healers, not harmers.”

Pacific leadership on climate change and its recognition called for by the Pacific Climate Warriors, has been symbolized in the Bonn Zone’s talanoa space and the renaming of the facilitative dialogue process to “talanoa dialogue”.

The Fiji Times reports the “talanoa spirit” which characterises Fiji’s presidency of COP23 has extended into open dialogue between the COP parties and non-state actors.

“This is the first open dialogue between parties and non-parties in the history of the COP process. It’s not a side event. It has been mandated by the parties and is designed to bring state actors and non-state actors together in the Bula Zone.

“I’m delighted as COP23 president that we have been able to connect in this manner. Because it goes to the heart of the grand coalition concept that Fiji has been promoting all year.

Adopting talanoa spirit
“We will not be negotiating. We will be talking to each other. And we will be listening. This is the perfect setting for adopting the talanoa spirit that is so much a part of what Fiji brings to the presidency.

“Together, we should learn how to engage all levels of government, civil society, the private sector and billions of ordinary citizens in the formation of the national plans for climate action,” Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said.

Bainimarama also called for frank and open discussions around what was and was not working in the fight against climate change, FBC reports.

“We must also be honest about what is not working. Because the Talanoa Spirit isn’t just about being nice to everyone, although respect is essential.

“It is about contributing to a solution that requires a degree of straight talking. And whoever you represent today, I encourage you to embrace that spirit, honest, constructive dialogue for the common good,” he said.

COP23 continues until November 17.

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‘The world must act now’ on climate change, calls Bainimarama

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: ‘The world must act now’ on climate change, calls Bainimarama

Fiji’s Prime Minister and COP23 President Voreqe Bainimarama … “do everything we can to make the Paris Agreement work”. Image: Vanuatu Daily Post

By Anita Roberts in Bonn, Germany

The Paris Climate Agreement must be implemented swiftly as backing away will expose people to more risks, Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has told world leaders.

Representing Pacific Island countries, Bainimarama, President of the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), pleaded for collective action from world leaders to tackle climate change after taking up the position of president from Morocco in Germany yesterday.

The future of life on earth depends on everyone’s choices – everyone must act on climate change, he said, when opening the Climate Planet in Bonn City.

“Our world is in distress from extreme weather events caused by climate change as destructive hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts, melting ice, and changes to agriculture which threaten food security.

“Thus, the need for urgency is obvious.


“All over the world, vast numbers of people are suffering – bewildered by the forces ranged against them.

“Our job as leaders is to respond to that suffering with all means available.

‘We must not fail our people’
“This includes our capacity to work together to identify opportunities in the transition we must make.

“We must not fail our people.

“That means using the next two weeks and the year ahead to do everything we can to make the Paris Agreement work and to advance ambition and support for climate action before 2020,” Bainimarama said.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) reports Bainimarama also called for climate negotiations to agree to limiting global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“By aiming for 1.5 degrees, we are setting ourselves a serious challenge.

“But it provides us with a mission. It engages our capacity for ingenuity, for organisation and sheer hard work.

 “The only way for every nation to put itself is to lock arms with all other nations and move forward together.

Assist the vulnerable
“We must appeal for a lot more resolve to assist the more vulnerable to adapt to climate change,” he said.

Bainimarama also announced the launch of an ocean pathway to ensure the ocean is an integral part of the UNFCCC process by 2020, the Vanuatu Daily Post reports.

COP23 officially opened on November 6 with a traditional Fijian ceremony and ‘Bula Spirit’.

‘Drua’, a Fijian ocean going canoe in the foyer of the world climate conference serves as a powerful symbol of resilience and unity during the meeting.

It also signifies the resilience of the ancient culture of the Pacific in the face of adverse impacts of climate change.

Climate talks in Bonn continue until November 17.

Anita Roberts is a reporter with the Vanuatu Daily Post. She is among ten journalists from the Pacific invited by the German Foreign Affairs Ministry to COP23 as part of a competition reflecting the importance of this year’s COP to small Pacific Island countries.

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