4 Oct 2019

Pacific has 'moral authority' on climate crisis

12:37 pm on 4 October 2019

The UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean wants the Pacific to use its "unique moral authority" to lead global discussions on climate change.

Peter Thomson, President of the seventy-first session of the General Assembly, speaks to journalists, following the opening meeting of the session.

Peter Thomson. Photo: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Peter Thomson, who is also Fiji's former ambassador to the UN, is advocating this approach ahead of the UN's Oceans Conference in Portugal next year.

Mr Thomson said Pacific island countries had a moral obligation to the world to be the stewards of the planet's largest expanse of ocean.

The obligation was also to future generations of Pacific islanders, he said.

PAC News reported Mr Thomson addressed delegates at the Pacific Ocean Alliance meeting underway in Suva, where he reiterated the UN Secretary General's observation on the "inspiring leadership" Pacific leaders provide on ocean issues.

This leadership is readily apparent on the world stage, he said.

The Special Envoy singled out Fiji and Vanuatu as regional and global leaders, citing Fiji's 100 percent marine spatial plan for its exclusive economic zones and Vanuatu's ban on single use plastics.

The battle to end the "plastic plague" would not be an easy one to win, Mr Thomson said.

But like the tobacco industry before it, the plastic industry is aware of the public's growing dismay, he said.