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REGION: Majuro Declaration adopted – ‘real work begins now’, says Loeak

President of the Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak, says he wants the Majuro Declaration to be a 'game changer in the global fight against climate change'. Image:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Item: 8403

MAJURO (Pacific Islands Forum / Radio New Zealand International / The Guardian / Pacific Media Watch): Fourteen Pacific leaders have agreed to the Majuro Declaration at the Pacific Islands Forum in the Marshall Islands.

The 12-page document said governments in the region were committed to demonstrating “climate leadership” and called on countries to list “specific” pledges to reduce pollution, The Guardian reported.

According to Radio New Zealand International, however, the declaration was “light on details”.

Nevertheless, President Christopher Loeak of the Marshall islands was hopeful the declaration would be important in the future fight against climate change.

We want our Majuro Declaration for climate leadership to be a game changer in the global fight against climate change. Forged on the frontlines of climate change’s devastating impacts, we hope it gives new impetus and accelerates the transition to the low-carbon economy.

We’ve had a strong meeting of minds here on the urgency of the problem, but the real work begins now. We need the rest of the world to follow the Pacific’s lead.

As Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum for the next 12 months, my absolute priority will be to fight for a safe climate future for my people, the Pacific region, and indeed the entire world. We must seize this moment, and rededicate ourselves to ensuring that a new wave of climate leadership takes hold.

President Loeak will present the Majuro Declaration to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon later this month.

'Critical step’
The Majuro Declaration consists of 17 points in which the Pacific Islands Forum expressed frustration over the lack of progress the UN has made in cutting global greenhouse emissions, and encouraged immediate action in preventing the impact of climate change.

In a press statement released Thursday evening by the office of President Loeak, the declaration was described as “a critical step in the region’s efforts to accelerate the global response to the climate crisis”.

It characterised climate change as “the greatest threat to the security, livelihoods and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific, and other vulnerable countries worldwide”.

“It [the Declaration] is also the first text of its kind to encourage commitments from both governments and non-state actors, including cities, companies and other organizations and is intended to complement and build momentum under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at a crucial time.”

Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, said it was a “declaration of responsibility”.

“They [Forum countries] have pledged to commit themselves as climate leaders and to demonstrate this leadership by attaching in this declaration what each is doing as part of their commitment to ameliorate emissions,” Tuiloma said, according to Radio New Zealand International.

Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga, said he wanted to see the Majuro Declaration received at the highest level of the UN so that a legally binding framework can be put in place by 2015.

Fiji comeback
In other major actions, Forum leaders are expected to invite Fiji to rejoin the organisation after elections are held in September next year, the first since a military coup in 2006.

“It is the expectation [of the] leaders that there will be free and fair elections and upon that happening in Fiji they will revisit their decision to suspend,” Secretary-General Tuiloma said.

The leaders have also condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and called upon the United Nations to hold those accountable responsible, Tuiloma explained.

They [the leaders] had decided it was appropriate and necessary to send to the United Nations a message of concern.

Equal concern to other countries who have expressed similar feelings in support for the people of Syria and calling for accountability with what has happened recently with the use of chemical weapons.

Cuba was invited to become the 15th Forum dialogue partner, while a decision on accepting Spain was deferred until next year’s Forum.

The leaders also endorsed a UN Special Rapporteur’s report on nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands that called on the United States government to pay over US$2 billion in awards for nuclear-affected islanders.

The Forum communique said the United States and the United Nations had ongoing obligations to encourage a final and just resolution for the Marshallese.

It was also decided that next year’s Pacific Islands Forum would be held in Palau.

Read the Majuro Declaration

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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