PMO Media release
The official opening of the Oceania 22 Summit Meeting was held on Monday 11th April 2016 in Noumea, New Caledonia. The purpose of the meeting is for the Pacific Island countries to lead the way and ensure that the Pacific Islands voice is heard by larger states so that the leverage afforded by the Paris Climate Change Agreement can contribute to developing the resilience of the Pacific Islands territories and accelerate the adaptation process in the Pacific.
The Paris Climate Change Agreement was adopted in 2015 during the Convention of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, France by 195 countries including Tonga in the UNFCCC, which has put the whole world on course for strong and decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rapidly and help all nations build a truly sustainable future for citizens everywhere.
The Oceania 22 Summit Meeting will be held from the 11th to 13th April 2016. Tonga’s Minister of Revenue Hon. Tevita Lavemaau delivered the country’s statement where he reaffirmed Tonga’s commitment to singing the entry into force of the legally binding Paris Climate Change Agreement in New York this month, which will ensure our survival and promises a truly shared and sustainable global vision and investment for both Tonga’s present and future generation.
Furthermore, Hon. Lavemaau reiterated that ‘The Kingdom of Tonga is committed to implement its action plans outlined in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and its target to deliver 70% access to renewable energy by 2030.’ In a statement made by the representative from SPREP, he congratulated Tonga for being the first country to initiate and successfully implement its Tonga Energy Roadmap project and urges fellow Pacific Island countries to take the same direction.
It was also stated that Tonga is committed tom the implementation of the Tonga Climate Change Policy which was approved by Cabinet in February 2016 with its goal to build ‘A resilient Tonga by 2035’ with an intension to provide an overarching context and guiding framework with policy objectives that for the most part will require multi-‐sector coordination and cooperation.
On the climate financing, Hon Lavemaau called on regional counterparts for assistance to strengthen national financial management systems to access funds for climate change adaptation and mitigation projects. Particular attention was drawn to the constraints and specific needs of its country to implement national climate change plans and call for rapid where possible, direct access to funding in particular the Adaptation Fund, the Green Climate Fund and other possible sources of multilateral funds.
In closing, Hon Lavemaau re-‐emphasized the seriousness of the impacts of climate change which cannot be underestimated. He further stated, “Our Pacific Islands have already seen people displaced, and people die because of climate change. Climate Change is a very personal and close to home global issue. We are the very victims of its consequences. In Tonga, the devastations resulted from Tropical Cyclone Ian and a visit from Cyclone Winston, which will take years to rebuild and restore normality into our affected areas. Tonga cannot afford to sit and wait for the sea level rise to continue, for more severe droughts and floods, and for more damaging cyclones, while emissions of fossil fuels continue unabated. A bold vision is required which must be translated into action that is supported by the international community.”
The Oceania 22 Summit Declaration will be finalized and signed on Wednesday the 13th April 2016.
The invitation to the Summit was for the Hon Prime Minister of Tonga. However, due to prior commitments, the Hon. Prime Minister delegated to the Hon. Minister of Revenue and Customs to represent the country. The delegation to the Summit was therefore led by the Hon. Minister of Revenue and Customs, Tevita Lavemaau and accompanied by the Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet, Prime Minister’s Office, Dr. Palenitina Langa’oi as well as the Principal Policy Analyst, MEIDECC, Mrs.‘Ofa Ma’asi Kaisamy. The delegation will return to Tonga later this week.