12 Jul 2019

Samoa deputy PM lays out climate, poverty challenges at UN

12:40 pm on 12 July 2019
Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa

Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa Photo: Dominic Godfrey / RNZ Pacific

Samoa's deputy prime minister has told the UN that a quarter of Pacific islanders live below the poverty line, many going without the most basic of needs.

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa said that despite sustained growth, many people were struggling to make ends meet in the face of poverty and inequality.

She added that vulnerable island countries were losing momentum towards achieving the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, and that the impacts of climate change were undoing decades of progress.

Food security and livelihoods were being threatened by frequent disasters and the threats to biodiversity, she said, and countries were increasingly unable to cope.

Fiame told the UN that high levels of violence against women and the under-representation of women in parliaments needed to be addressed.