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Our commitment to the Commonwealth remains strong. There is not only the sense of belonging to a great global family that we witnessed recently when Fiji hosted the Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Denarau. The Commonwealth is also a powerful force for good in the world and an important vehicle for sustainable development and improving the lives of its 2.4 billion citizens and, in turn, every person on earth.
Excellencies, we all know that the accelerated development of alternative clean energy sources such as solar, hydro and wind is the key to meeting the most ambitious target of the Paris Agreement of 2015, which is to limit the global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above that of the pre-industrial age.
Violence against women hurts everyone. It does not hurt only the victim. When women experience violence, families, communities and the entire country is affected through emotional, psychological and economic impacts.
Our people have recognised the need for a new standard of resilience to meet the constant threat we now face, even outside the traditional cyclone season. They know - because they lived through it - that we must build back stronger and better to survive the more frequent and more intense cyclones that are coming because of climate change.
Here in Fiji, we are fully committed to our agenda for expanding access to high quality education. We’ve made education free for the first time in Fijian history, we are proving our students with free textbooks and subsidised transportation to school. And, recently, we’ve massively expanded access to merit-based scholarships and our affordable tertiary education loans scheme, and made those programmes more tailored to students’ needs.
Sustainability has been at the core of my Government’s development agenda since day one. I have said time and time again, and I repeat tonight: no development in Fiji will be unsustainable. And, in the time that has passed since I was with you all at last year’s awards ceremony, our passion for sustainable development has been elevated and channeled in ways that, just a few short years ago, few would have imagined possible for a small island state like ours.
Make no mistake, our game plan for our Sugar Industry is about keeping our cane industry at the heart of our economic growth. And our work with our iTaukei landowners is about giving you the tools you need to develop your land and get the most out of your land resources. So that all of you, our farmers and our landowners, can have the assurance and stability you need to do well by yourselves and your families.
We come into this Year of the Earth Dog a very different animal than we did a mere 12 years ago — and the best accomplishment of all is that all Fijians, regardless of ethnicity, background, or socio-economic standing, can celebrate these successes as equals. As a prospering Fijian family, united as one.
The small and medium entrepreneurs or SMEs of this country are the engines of our economy. The income you generate from your businesses and the jobs you create contribute to the economic development of our nation. You certainly contribute to rural development, poverty alleviation, empowerment of our youths and women, and the diversification of our agricultural, industrial and commercial sectors. You are, without a doubt, all winners.
The threat that climate change poses to the entire world is undoubtedly the greatest collective challenge humanity has ever faced. The resulting natural disasters pose a particular threat to vulnerable nations everywhere, including those of us in the Asia Pacific. So I’m pleased to welcome so many of you from throughout the Asia-Pacific region to Fiji for the 4th Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union Media Summit on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.  
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