Madam President;
Distinguished delegates;
Ladies and gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
Just yesterday, Fiji had the privilege of showcasing our first-ever Voluntary National Review, where we discussed the significant progress that we have made in achieving a number of key goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Our presentation was centred around the fact that Fiji –– as a small island developing state of fewer than a million people –– has embraced our responsibility as a global citizen, promoting peace in turbulent regions around the world, assuming a seat on the Human Rights Council, and passionately fighting for climate action.
There is perhaps no bigger stage than here at the United Nations, and during our VNR presentation, I was most moved by the remarks of a representative from Fijian civil society who sat by my side on that stage on behalf of the Fiji Disabled Peoples Federation, Lanieta Tuimabu.
Ms Tuimabu brought powerful emotion to the room with her remarks, saying that, as a woman of disability, she could have never imagined she would be sitting in this great hall, representing her country in front of the world, and representing the progress that marginalised people like herself are achieving as Fiji implements its sustainable development programme.
Lanieta’s story is precisely the kind of tangible outcome that the United Nations works to achieve through its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is about uplifting our people. It is about achieving the unthinkable. It is about recognition that, by working together, and by maintaining an unyielding commitment to inclusivity, we can achieve more than we ever thought possible. And it is recognition that, through harnessing the might of multilateralism, we can transform lives, transform societies, and transform the world.
Through the self-assessment through our VNR process, Fiji has realised that we have laid a strong foundation for achieving our SDGs. Our robust infrastructure network has connected Fiji like never before, our unprecedented economic position has us positioned to thrive in an evolving global landscape, and the potential of our human capital is incomparable to any point in Fijian history.
Meanwhile, our VNR –– and the conversations that we’ve had in other meetings and panels through this week in New York –– have shown us that, while this foundation we have laid is solid, it is just the first phase of true and enduring sustainable development. For a foundation alone has no value if it is not built upon.
More protections for Fijians living with disabilities needs to translate into a society that allows them to not only survive, but to thrive, as contributors to our nation-building.
More girls in Fijian classrooms and universities needs to translate into more young women becoming engineers and programmers and doctors.
More connectivity to our rural and maritime areas needs to translate into these newly-connected Fijians seizing on new economic opportunities to transform their communities.
More resources for budding young businessowners needs to translate into an enduring culture of entrepreneurship.
More support for Fijian women needs to translate into a permanent break from a culture of domestic violence and sexual assault.
More focus on our oceans needs to translate into a new, blue economy, tapping into opportunities like aquaculture and green shipping, and rejuvenating our coral reefs.
Indeed, as Fiji shifts into the next phase of our national development, we must strive for more –– and we must focus on the power of partnerships to secure a better future for the Fijian people.
We call on the UN system to provide the type of cohesive and comprehensive support that will be needed to bring Fiji –– and many other countries –– to the next level.
We call on the UN and our development partners to focus on finding new blended financing solutions at affordable costs –– building on the landmark accomplishments like Fiji’s sovereign green bond with ocean-centric blue bonds and other innovative mechanisms that allow us to protect our progress from climate disasters.
We call on developed nations of the world to condemn and counteract debt-trap diplomacy by supporting Small Island Developing States with sustainable solutions –– financing that ensures our independence, protects our people, and allows us to prosper as we build upon the foundation that we have worked so hard to lay.
I thank the United Nations for the invaluable platform that it has provided to Fiji, to all of the Pacific, and indeed countries outside of the region, as we fight not only to develop our economies, but to save our nations from the immense crisis of climate change. Now more than ever, our voices are being heard, and now more than ever, the world must act.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.