12 Oct 2023

Pacific island states urged to 'work hard to defend island countries' ahead of COP28

9:56 am on 12 October 2023

By Islands Business

The road to COP28 in Dubai continues for the Pacific Small Islands States (PSIDS) with the pre-COP28 meeting opening at the Pacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC) at SPREP’s headquarters in Samoa. 10 October 2023.

The road to COP28 in Dubai continues for the Pacific Small Islands States (PSIDS) with the pre-COP28 meeting opening at the Pacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC) at SPREP’s headquarters in Samoa. 10 October 2023. Photo: SPREP

Less than two months ahead of the upcoming COP28 meeting in Dubai, leaders and officials from Pacific Small Islands States (PSIDS) are meeting in Samoa to consolidate their positions ahead of the annual, global climate negotiations, with a view to leaving "no stone unturned" to make the Pacific voice heard.

PSIDS members are meeting at the Pacific Climate Change Centre at the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP).

A statement from SPREP said that in the face of an escalating climate crisis, Pacific leaders have continued to advocate for much stronger global ambition to keep 1.5 [degrees] alive, a robust GST (Global Stock Take - the first assessment of progress on implementing the Paris Agreement) to bring "course correction", the phasing out of fossil fuels and for financial mechanisms to better respond to the needs of Pacific communities.

PSIDS chair and Palau's representative Xavier Matsutaro said the meeting in Apia was a chance to ensure "we leave no stone unturned" in their efforts to incorporate the views and needs of Pacific countries in the COP28 decisions.

"Heading into Dubai a lot of ground must be covered. We must embrace the challenge of pushing our negotiating partners to accelerate action on mitigation, complete the work on the Global Goal for Adaptation (GGA), operationalise the loss and damage fund and conclude the first GST," he said.

"By no means this will be an easy task, as we will continue to encounter the same challenges we faced in the lead up to and during COP27 and will likely have to navigate our way through a whole host of challenges. But I look forward to making use of this meeting to mobilise our expert negotiators to discuss, reflect and share ideas on how to chart the path towards Dubai and to lay the platform for our Ministers, Political Climate Champions and Leaders to advance our priorities."

The Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) Samoa chair, represented by Anne Rasmussen, called for improved coordination and more cohesiveness around the messaging and action from Pacific countries. At the heart of the work done by AOSIS is the understanding that SIDS share a very special set of circumstances, despite broad ranging cultural backgrounds.

"The recognition of the special circumstances of SIDS in the face of development challenges unifies us and provides the rationale for the Alliance of Small Island States to act on behalf of all SIDS," she said. "It is this unity that has allowed us to continually 'punch above our weight' across the years, and the ability of AOSIS members to see past their regional differences and find the all-important commonalities among us, has been our strength and will continue to be.

"So, I urge you during this important preparatory session to both consider your uniqueness as Pacific Island nations and work hard to defend that, but understand that in doing so, you are part of a larger family of island countries that have similar needs and priorities and that we stand strongest together."

Xavier Matsutaro

Xavier Matsutaro Photo: SPREP

SPREP Director-General Sefanaia Nawadra acknowledged the government of Palau as PSIDS Chair, Samoa as AOSIS Chair, the Climate Analytics team and the One CROP team, saying their work is critical in enhancing the effective engagement of the Pacific SIDS a COP28.

"The next few days again presents us with the opportunity to further hone and fine tune our collective positions and priorities in preparation for COP28. In addition, this meeting also provides us the opportunity in further ensuring that both our Pacific Political Champions together with our technical negotiators are well informed and technically equipped with the requisite knowledge and tools to seamlessly navigate throughout COP28," Nawadra said.

"This is not a sprint, it's a marathon that we need to continue to work at. We need to pick our fights and be smart in how we engage to get the best outcomes for our Pacific communities that we serve. Let us not waiver in our efforts but find strength through unity to drive forward the momentum for enhancing the resilience of our people, strengthening the resilience of our region, and in doing so lead in saving the world."

The PSIDS Preparatory Meeting for the UNFCCC COP28 concludes on Friday.

This article was originally published by Islands Business.