While the exodus of leaders from Sharm El Sheikh on the banks of the Red Sea has begun, the Fijian delegation continues to wander in the desert of negotiating rooms and meetings at COP27.

Head of the Fijian delegation and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr Satyendra Prasad took the opportunity to meet with the Holy See delegation to discuss the abiding relationship between Fiji and the Vatican.

Ambassador Prasad thanked His Holiness Pope Francis for his unwavering leadership on climate change.

He said that communities across the Blue Pacific Continent continue to draw great inspiration and faith from the moral leadership his Holiness provides on climate issues and welcomed Pope Francis to visit Fiji in the near future after a planned visit was shelved due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Ambassador Prasad and Holy See representative, Mr Paolo Conversi, expressed agreement about the need to see young children return to a lived awareness of the environment and its bountiful yet fragile relationship with humanity.

They discussed the biodiversity and ocean crisis, affirming that ocean systems are central to Pacific peoples and must be mainstreamed into action related to environmental sustainability.

Ambassador Prasad highlighted the fight for a functioning Loss and Damage mechanism for Small Island Developing States and all countries affected by the high-emitting nations.

He underlined the need for dedicated support from bigger countries and decisive action from the large emitters to keep the 1.5-degree threshold within reach. Ambassador Prasad further elaborated on Fiji's expectations for COP27 and how a Loss and Damage funding facility would greatly assist vulnerable communities and peoples of Fiji to combat the adverse effects of climate change.

The bilateral meeting also covered adaptation measures which Fiji has implemented and the range of support and commitment needed to ensure the sustainability of fledgling adaptation projects.

"There’s so much investment going into the climate mitigation work program," he said, "It’s about time we expanded our global adaptation goals and align climate finance instruments to implement these goals."

Mr Conversi spoke of the Pope's deep affection for the peoples of the Pacific and affirmed his support for their struggle, noting the grave consequences for communities, cultures and the spiritual health of individuals facing the loss of their homes to climate-induced disasters and sea level rise.

Ambassador Prasad thanked the Holy See for their expressions of solidarity. He praised his Holiness for his continued support before outlining the many challenges in relocating communities, including moving not only homes but building new roads, schools and churches and managing the mental and spiritual well-being of dislocated communities.

The bilateral meeting was attended by Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the UN, His Excellency Dr Satyendra Prasad, Mr Kushaal Raj, Head of Climate Change and International Cooperation Division, the Assistant to the Permanent Observer Mission to UNON, Mr Paolo Conversi and Vatican Head for Climate, Father Stephen Otieno Agutu.