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As Fiji’s Champion in our National campaign against Non-Communicable Diseases, I am delighted to join you, my fellow Fijians this morning to celebrate this year’s National Sports and Wellness Day.
I’m delighted to be here today as we celebrate a project that marks the beginning of a new era of prosperity and empowerment for the iTaukei people, as we break ground on the first-ever Government funded development of iTaukei land.
If there is one thing we have all learned over the last two weeks, for every action -- there is a reaction. And, my friends, the leadership represented in this room, and people of all walks of life from across America, have spoken very loudly -- telling the world that America will continue to tackle climate change, continue the clean energy revolution, continue to create jobs and grow its economy so that it can thrive in the 21st Century.
We came here playing a role far more ambitious than a nation of our size can expect to play under normal circumstances. But as we all know, these aren’t normal circumstances. Our oceans and seas are under unprecedented threat.
The community of nations has gathered here in New York this week to try to find answers to the grave threat our seas and oceans are under from pollution, overfishing and climate change. We have worked hard to make this conference a success. Many of us have made commitments that will spearhead our effort to tackle this crisis. Many of us are embarking on courses of action within our own maritime borders to roll back the tide – to begin the long, slow process of reversing the degradation we have all witnessed.
The challenges we face to ocean quality are so comprehensive that only solutions that are practical and holistic should be considered. And it has become abundantly clear this week that we must redouble our efforts, especially in the Pacific, because of the urgency of the situation we find ourselves in.

Excellencies, as you all know, COP23 – unlike previous COPS – does not include the usual gathering of world leaders. Our prime task is to advance the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement - the Rulebook - and lay the groundwork for more decision climate action in the Facilitative Dialogue of 2018.
The Commonwealth continues to play a leading role in global affairs and I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to open this important side event - a high level roundtable on what the Commonwealth can do to support the implementation of SDG14.

We also have a great story to tell about some of our own efforts to relieve the ever-growing pressures on our natural environments. Increasingly, ACP members are not only conscious of the need to act. They are already doing so. And I’m proud to say that Fiji is one of them.
We seek a commitment from all 7.5 billion people on earth to join our crusade to improve the quality of our oceans. Let us all seize this moment in history to make a difference. To place SDG 14 at the very top of the global agenda alongside decisive climate action. We can do it. We must do it. Because the alternative in both cases is catastrophe.
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