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Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula vinaka, zao shang hao and a very good morning to you all.

I’m very pleased that China has hosted this event to highlight the huge potential in south-south economic cooperation on climate change. At a similar event at COP23 last year, I made the point that it is not sufficiently appreciated how significant this cooperation already is and how important it is going to be in all of our futures. And I very much appreciate the important leadership role that China is playing – along with other nations such as India – in helping to draw global attention to the great potential this offers in the climate struggle. Whether it is through the provision of cleaner energy, modern infrastructure that is more energy efficient or boosting human resources to better deal with the climate threat.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the governments of China and India for the support they gave towards Fiji’s COP23 Presidency. This was a south-south transfer of resources that helped enable Fiji to become the first Small Island Developing State to preside over the UN climate negotiations. And we very much appreciate that generosity and the opportunity it gave Fijians and other climate vulnerable people to have their voices heard.

I made the point as COP23 President that for too long, our global conversation about climate action - especially when it comes to finance and technology - assumed that all the answers to the big questions lie in the north, among the developed nations. While we have concentrated political and diplomatic effort to move finance and technology from north to south, the fact is that in the real economy, technology, finance and human resources are moving from south to south in very large volumes. And this is leading to geopolitical shifts in influence that some may find uncomfortable but is the new reality and should be embraced for the opportunities it offers to billions of people around the world.

There is a long list of countries in what is called the “Global South” that make significant contributions to the economic development of other nations in the south and these contributions are extremely important. But through their sheer size and economic power, China and India head that list and we can expect both nations to assume an even greater importance in the years ahead.

China’s Belt and Road Strategy is a massive investment in infrastructure in the future global economy that we in the Pacific welcome. We very much hope that a principal focus of this strategy will be to help us all develop net zero emission and more climate resilient economies and societies. China’s ability to deliver affordable renewable energy is already having a beneficial impact in many places and we trust that this effort can be scaled up as time progresses.

India is also taking a lead, especially in the development of solar power, and this holds out the prospect that coal consumption will decline, providing not only clean energy but improving air quality and the standard of public health. Both India and China - along with many other countries - understand that pollution has a cost.

It has taken them perhaps too long to realise it but both these economic powerhouses have now placed themselves on a cleaner, more sustainable footing. The technologies they are developing for themselves – such as the convergence between renewable energy, storage and electrification of transport – can be offered to other countries in the south and I very much hope that happens on a sizeable scale as the years progress.

Friends, I have made the point before as COP23 President that whatever we do moving forward, our infrastructure of the future will have to be both resilient to climate change and clean – whether it is new energy and transport systems, efficient buildings or communications networks that assist the digital revolution. We are not moving forward into a better future if we build in more pollution and climate risk. So we must all summon the courage and political will to make the switch from dirty energy to clean energy and, depending on our ability to do so, share the technology and expertise that has enabled us to make that journey with others.

We no longer look to the north for all the answers because we have a great deal of them in the south. By continuing to strengthen our own cooperation, we can do a great deal to improve our own contribution to the climate struggle. And play a greater role in helping the world achieve the 1.5 degree warming target that is the only way we can ensure the security and prosperity of our own people and all humanity.

Thank you for the opportunity to address you this morning. I regret that I will miss the rest of this session because I am about to launch Fiji’s National Adaptation Plan in the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion. But I wish you well as you continue your discussion.

Vinaka vakalevu. Xi Xi. Thank you.

© 2018 Ministry of Communications