Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday officially opened the first ever virtual SIDS Solutions Forum hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) co-hosted by Fiji.
The Prime Minister expressed his deepest sympathies to the people of Haiti who have suffered the devastation of Tropical Storm Grace on the heels of a deadly earthquake and wished them the speediest possible recovery and urge solidarity from the international community in aiding the Haitian people.
With the theme “COVID-19 impacts on the economy and the potential of digitalisation and innovation to accelerate progress on resilient agri-food systems; improved nutrition and health; and strengthened climate resilience adaptation within the context of achieving the SDGs,” the two-day event will be attended by Heads of States/Heads of Government, the FAO Director-General, and heads of other UN agencies, International Financial Institutions (IFIs), donors, private sector and civil society representatives.
While addressing the high-level gathering, PM Bainimarama acknowledged that advances in digital innovation have seen the vast oceans that separate SIDS members give way to vast possibilities, stating that together, SIDS are one connected continent bound by a spirit of innovative resilience.
“Our 39 states, from the South Pacific to the Caribbean, to the Indian Ocean, are home to incredible minds, cutting edge innovation, and deep traditional knowledge. And it is past time we channelled all of our knowledge, ingenuity and passion behind solutions that can be scaled up for the benefit of our nearly 65 million citizens.”
The Prime Minister said food and nutrition security underpins every aspect of sustainable development and in the Pacific, decades of nutrition security have resulted in an epidemic of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) – a challenge intensified by the pandemic. A challenge according to Prime Minister Bainimarama can be resolved through food systems which has the potential to help SIDS grow their way towards a COVID-19 recovery that sees their nations emerge stronger, more resilient, and more food and nutrition secure.
Prime Minister Bainimarama reiterated the need for SIDS to take note of the most recent IPCC report which states that without drastic cuts to emissions, low-lying SIDS member countries like Kiribati and Tuvalu will be faced with an existential threat over the coming decades.
“It means all of us must brace for storms and other climate impacts, unlike anything we or our ancestors have ever endured. That is why, when we go to COP26 together, our rallying cry must be to keep 1.5 alive. It remains the only temperature threshold that guarantees the security of all SIDS citizens, and we must leverage every ounce of our power and moral authority to fight for it.”
Prime Minister Bainimarama added that these challenges can be met with innovation using Fiji’s launch of a micro-insurance scheme for climate-vulnerable communities as an example.
“We are supporting local farmers with climate-resilient crops and funding adaption efforts through creative financial instruments. By harnessing the hope that such innovation offers, we can recoup the economic losses of the pandemic and reset the course towards zero hunger, clean oceans, quality education, sustainable cities, and the other noble aims of the 2030 Agenda, towards more sustainable agri-food systems, and towards more resilient societies.”
The SIDS Solutions Forum scheduled from 30 – 31 August 2021 intends to showcase examples of innovation and digitalisation for better agriculture, improved nutrition and health; strengthened adaptation to climate change and resilience – and aims to discuss ways and means for enhancing knowledge sharing across SIDS globally and the investments and partnerships required.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Bainimarama later today will also be delivering a High Level Leaders segment statement which will be attended by the Heads of Governments and Ministers as well as the Closing Remarks to conclude day one of the virtual SIDS Solutions Forum’s High Level segment.
This feature was published on Fiji’s Government Facebook page on 30 August 2021, reposted via PACNEWS.