Speaking on the occasion of Earth Hour on 25 March, Fiji’s Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Inia Seruiratu, said: “The future of Fiji is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake. And we are taking on these responsibilities not only for every Fijian and every Pacific islander but for all 7.5 billion people on earth.” Fiji will be presiding over the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in November in Bonn, hosted by the UN Climate Change Secretariat with support from Germany. Seruiratu is also Fiji’s “Climate Champion” for COP23, which means he will play an important role in the Global Climate Action Agenda designed to boost cooperative action between governments, cities, business, investors and citizens to cut emissions rapidly and help vulnerable nations adapt to climate impacts and build their own clean energy, sustainable futures.
Tonight, we come together as Fijians and as citizens of the world to shine a light on the urgent need for climate action to save our planet. And as the Climate Champion of COP23, I’m very pleased to be here in Sukuna Park as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of Earth Hour.
Because night falls in Fiji before the rest of the world, Suva is the first of more than 7,000 cities in 175 nations and territories taking part in this event.
And Fiji is also leading the world in the fight to reduce our carbon emissions and reduce the impact of climate change – the extreme weather events like Cyclone Winston and the rising sea levels that threaten many places including my own village – Kumi in Tailevu
As you all know, 2017 is a big year for Fiji. We are co-hosting the UN Oceans Conference in New York in June. And our Honourable Prime Minister will also preside over COP 23 – the ongoing UN climate negotiations in Bonn in November.
You might ask, why is a small country like ours doing all of this? The answer is very simple. The future of Fiji is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake. And we are taking on these responsibilities not only for every Fijian and every Pacific islander but for all 7.5 billion people on earth.
Climate Change threatens our agriculture and the food we eat. Our drinking water, our land, our economy and our security. More cyclones. More floods. More droughts. More sea level rises.
Our oceans are also threatened by pollution and overfishing. And as a government, we have decided to lead this fight – a fight for our very survival.
So I appeal to you all get behind the Prime Minister as he goes to New York in June and to Bonn in November. To support me as the Climate Champion and the rest of our team, including our Climate Negotiator, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan. Because we need your support and we need your prayers as we take this fight to the world on behalf of every Fijian.
We also need you to act. And no matter whom you are or how old you are, you can also make a difference and be a warrior for change.
Turn off your lights and appliances when you don’t need them to conserve power. Plant a food garden in your backyard. Plant as many trees as you can. Buy locally produced food and support the local economy. Walk or use a bicycle to save fuel.
And don’t rubbish our country. Pick up litter and keep our beaches and coastlines clean. These things may seem small. But if we all do them, we can really make a difference. We can all be climate champions and protectors of our seas.
Vinaka vakalevu for coming to support this wonderful event. Vinaka vakalevu to WWF and all our sponsors and supporters. This is the hour when we rededicate ourselves to really making a difference. This is the hour when we make a stand for Planet Earth.