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PIF foreign ministers focus on climate, environment

A declaration that the Pacific is facing a climate emergency and the Solomon Islands’ bid to host the next Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting were part of the communique released by the Forum Foreign Ministers meeting.

The ministers agreed that Pacific livelihoods, security, and wellbeing of its people and ecosystems were under threat.

Foreign ministers also endorsed a recommendation by Vanuatu for Forum leaders to call on the United Nations General Assembly for a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice to provide an advisory opinion on the obligations of states under international law, to protect the rights of present and future generations against climate change impacts.

Priorities for COP 27 which takes place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in November were set as well.

The region will once again be led by Political Climate Champions, including a new Champion on Gender and Social Inclusion.

Foreign ministers from the Pacific nations in Suva. Picture: Fijian Government

Ministers welcomed Australia’s renewed commitment to the Forum’s climate change priorities and also welcomed Australia’s interest to host a future UNFCCC COP in partnership with Pacific island countries.

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On nuclear legacy issues, foreign ministers reiterated that Japan’s plans to discharge treated nuclear wastewater into the ocean could lead to trans-generational impacts of great concern to the peoples of the Pacific, and noted statements by the Government of Japan that there will be no discharge of into the Pacific Ocean if the water is not safe.

Fiji’s Minister for Trade Faiyaz Koya (R) and Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremaia Manele. Picture: Fijian Government

Foreign ministers considered the scientific advice produced by the PIF Panel of Independent Experts, which indicates major gaps in data and information needed for further assessment of safety prior to any discharge.

On maritime boundaries, ministers commended international support for the 2021 Forum Leaders Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the face of climate change-related sea-level rise including from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Climate Vulnerable Forum, and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) as a key step towards global recognition of this interpretation of UNCLOS.

Ministers also endorsed plans to convene a 2022 Regional Conference on Statehood and the Protection of Persons affected by sea-level rise, planned for September 5 to 9.

The Forum foreign ministers during their meeting on Friday. Picture: Fijian Government

In recognising the power of Blue Pacific advocacy on the global stage, foreign ministers welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations on the World Trade Organization Fisheries Subsidies Agreement and the excellent work by Fiji and the member countries who through the Forum and the Pacific Way were able to work together in solidarity to reach the successful conclusion of these negotiations.

To further strengthen Blue Pacific international advocacy, foreign ministers commenced a Forum process to more consistently elevate Pacific candidates to international positions and develop a pipeline for competitive candidates, with a particular focus on encouraging and empowering the participation of Pacific women.

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