Monday 26 September 2022

UN Secretary-General Mr Antonio Gueter (centre left) meets with Pacific Islands Forum Leaders for a group photo after their meeting.

Prime Minister Hon. James  Marape attended his final meeting at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)  annual world leaders dialogue on Friday, 23  September 2022 in New York.

PM Marape was pleased with the outcomes of the engagement of Pacific Leaders with the United Secretary- General, Antonio Guterres and the General Assembly 77th session General Debate.

He joined his fellow Pacific Islands Forum colleague leaders, for a meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

This is an  annual meeting  that takes  place at the margins of the General Debate of the General Assembly and was the first in-person leaders meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

PM Marape joined the Forum Chair, Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Prime Ministers of New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu and other representatives of the Forum Members. They were joined by the Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna.

Prior to the opening of the meeting, there was a moment of silence in honour of Forum Leaders that have passed on since the last in-person meeting, as well as paid respect to Forum members affected by COVID-19 and recent natural disasters, including the devastating earthquake in Papua New Guinea. 

The Forum Chair and the Prime Ministers of Samoa, Vanuatu and Forum Secretary-General spoke on behalf of the Forum members.

Fiji provided an overview of the Forum’s work since last year, whilst Samoa spoke to the economic challenges and support to Small Island Developing States (SIDs) – COVID-19 response and recovery, food and fuel crises, technology and connectivity, reforms to the international financial architecture; Vanuatu spoke on climate change agenda whereas Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) addressed the global and regional landscape, Pacific regionalism and 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

Overall, the Forum leaders underscored the Pacific region’s strong united stance under the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, in taking all necessary measures in the climate-ocean nexus and in the post-COVID-19 pandemic efforts to protect Pacific peoples, communities and way of live and their willingness to work in partnerships with international development partners to address the priorities of the region.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was candid in expressing his serious and growing concerns with the state of the world, where he noted it was in “turmoil” from the multiple crisis related to “climate and energy, hunger and poverty to conflicts and war and above all, a fear that worse is yet to come.”

He underscored his pain of seeing the Pacific countries and others in the “frontlines of climate chaos and paying the highest price yet they did not create this crisis”.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly lauded the powerful, consistent, and united voice of the Pacific urging climate action at a scale commensurate with the scope of the challenge.

“I share your concerns that we are off track from the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

“At a time when we should be urgently accelerating actions, we are backtracking and finger pointing,” said the Secretary-General. 

The UN Secretary-General was even more blunt, stating that “the world is not making enough progress. Not even close:  Not on emission cuts that could keep the 1.5 degrees goal within reach. Not on scaling finance for adaptation.  And not on loss and damage”. 

He, however, implored Forum leaders “not to lose hope”.

“Instead, I ask you to raise your voices even more loudly.  We need the strong moral voice and leadership of the Pacific to impel everyone – especially G20 countries who account for 80% of global emissions – to take urgent actions,” said the Secretary-General.

He also called for major carbon emitters to phase out fossil fuels; turbocharge a renewables revolution; meet finance commitments in full – on the $100 billion and on collectively doubling adaptation finance to $40 billion a year; ensure that countries that need it most have access to that finance; and scale up finance for the burning issue of loss and damage.

The UN Secretary-General also highlighted his concerns over the continuing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that “Small Island Developing States have one of the steepest hills to climb, confronted by years of lost tourism revenue, fractured supply chains, and disrupted transport and communication, which is further compounded by the food and fuel crisis arising from the war in Ukraine that has resulted into a “global cost of living crisis”.

He encouraged Forum leaders to invest in resilience and preparedness, in health  and education; and in infrastructure and decent jobs, as a way to respond to the multiple crisis involved but also recognizes the serious unfair and unequal access to the financial and other resources needed to support them address issues of debt relief and to enable fiscal capacity to save lives and livelihoods and invest in the future and therefore called for reforms in this area at the global financial and other such institutions.

He particularly welcomed and commended the Forum Leaders’ efforts for developing and launching the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and leadership on the Small Island Developing States Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) for improved eligibility for concessional finance. 

“Together, the 2050 Strategy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are our blueprints for the future we want and need,” said the UN Secretary-General. 

“The United Nations is proud to stand with you in partnership and solidarity as we work together to make this future a reality across the Pacific and the world”.

It was pleasing to also note the Secretary-General’s commitment to form a team to work closely together with the Forum members on issues of mutual interest.

 The Secretary-General also welcomed Forum members recent commitment to the revitalization of the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration. He added that “whatever the challenge we face, there can be no successful response without increasing women’s political, social, and economic participation”.

Prime Minister Marape said that he was extremely pleased that the views of the UN Secretary-General was exactly alike as he had articulated on Thursday 22nd September, 2022 New York Time in his General Debate Statement delivered to the UN General Assembly on behalf of our country.   

“The bold message to the Forum leaders from the UN Secretary-General that “your fight is my fight and your people are my people” was most welcomed and heartening and I look forward to working closely with my fellow Forum leaders and our people and governments with the UN Secretary-General, going forward.”

“I know that more work lies ahead of us at the country-level and as a Pacific region but I am satisfied with the level of engagement with the UN Secretary-General and at the United Nations General Debate session as we continue to make important strides to ensure that our national and regional interests are fostered globally and more importantly to garner the necessary support we need to implement effectively our development priorities to take our country forward in the right direction,” said Prime Minister Marape.

Prime Minister Marape concluded the meetings on Friday 23rd September 2022, New York time before departing for Brisbane, Australia where he met up with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese.

PM Marape left PNG today Monday 26September 2022 to attend the funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister late Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on  Tuesday 27 September.