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Minister's Opening Statements - 6th Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management, Novotel, Lami Fiji: 2 – 4 June 2014

Honorable Ministers

Excellencies

Distinguished Guests

Partners

Participants

Ladies and gentlemen

 

I am privileged and honored to be invited to address this conference on the 6th Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management.  I take this opportunity to welcome each and every one of you who are present at this conference in Lami. A special welcome to all Disaster Managers and participants from neighboring Pacific Island Countries, donors, stakeholders  and partners who are here with us today for this important conference. I also welcomed and sincerely thank the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) for co-hosting this event.

 Many achievements have been made over the years as outputs and outcomes of previous Platforms in the region. These achievements should be maintained and further nurtured for the sake of our people and communities.  I noted that the theme of this platform is ‘The Way Forward: Climate and Disaster Resilient Development for the Pacific”; a remarkable statement that harmonises progress that we have made so far in our collective attempt to enhance disaster and climate resilience through wholesome integrated efforts.

 For Fiji, the renewed drive on climate and disaster risk management, and the push for sustainable development goals have reprioritized and re-aligned our focus NOT to make haste in the review of our current disaster legislation and plans; but to make sure that all the relevant mechanics are in place for a resilient and sustainable future for our community.

 In this regard, Fiji fully supports the proposed Strategy integrating climate change and disaster risk resilience (SRDP), as a successor to the Pacific Regional Framework for Climate Change, and the DRR Framework for Action. I believe that the new Strategy or SRDP is a ‘world first’ and collectively you should be proud of your contributions and achievements. For us in the region the climate and disaster instruments are integrated and inseparable, unique to our island nature and the SRDP is the right approach to take us into the future.

 For Fiji, a good example of this integrated approach is the Vunidogoloa village disaster risk and climate change mitigation project where the government and the community work together relocating the whole community to higher ground, to reduce disaster risk and climate change effect and where sustainable growths and developments are promoted unhindered. More than 40 communities in Fiji are also identified, will undergo the same program. It is time to ‘walk the talk’ and make things possible.

 Our island neighbor, the Solomon Islands has given us another dimension through the Choisel province integrated project based on a ‘whole community’ approach; should be encouraged and adapted by our island communities where possible.   We cannot continue to work in silos as individual sectors, ministries and communities and hope to create an enabling and sustainable environment for our people.  We need to close the divide between national and sub-national levels with clear policies and guidelines that are both vertical and horizontal to drive our efforts. 

 I understand that for us in the Pacific, this conference will conclude the 10 year Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) implementation and proposes a way forward for disaster risk reduction in to the future. We need some strong push and directions in this conference to drive the successor post-2015 Disaster Risk Reduction framework. We have made remarkable improvements since 2005 and we should show the world that despite our small island developing status and geographical isolations we have a permanent space amongst the world best in DRR and climate change adaptation. We will continue to nurture this process through the proposed SRDP and focus on the sustainable development goals to create an enabling and successful environment for our people.

As a region of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) we are unique but different from bigger developed countries. Our small islands nature and fragile economies exacerbate our vulnerabilities to internal and external shocks. As such, assistance from donors and partners are always appreciated and welcomed. For us in the region, natural hazards are here to stay, poverty and climate change will not go away, however, we can do something about them and prevail – but our collective efforts need to be firm as we progress into the future.

 Let this 3 days deliberations provide more doors of opportunities for disaster risk management and climate change processes in the region. Let us show the world at this conference, and the upcoming SIDS international conference in Samoa in September, and the 3rd World Conference in DRR in Sendai Japan next year that we can do it collaboratively. Our geographical isolation will not limit us. The Pacific Ocean binds us as a family and we are united to sustain our future through concerted and collective efforts to reduce climate and disaster risk influences.

 Excellencies, participants, partners, ladies and gentlemen, I take this opportunity to thank your all for your participation and look forward to a fruitful deliberation and positive outcomes in the next 3 days.

 Vinaka vakalevu, and with these words, I now declare this conference open.