Address by UNDP Resident Representative, Osnat Lubrani, at the Pacific Regional Dialogue on (Intended) Nationally Determined Contributions for the Pacific Islands

Dec 5, 2016

Mrs Makereta Konrote, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Economy for the Government of Fiji 

Jigme, United Nations Climate Change Secretariat 

Mr. Stanford Mwakasonda, UNEP

Mr. Jesus Lavina, European Commission

Donors and Development Partners

Government Officials including the respective NDC focal points in each Pacific Island Country

Representatives from the Media

My Colleagues from UNDP and the UN agencies

Ladies and Gentlemen.

First, I would like to start by congratulating the Government of Fiji for its appointment as the President of COP23 to be held in Bonn, Germany in 2017. This is not only a significant step for Fiji or the Pacific, but for Small Islands Developing states globally. Fiji is not new to leadership roles in the UNFCCC. As we are aware, Fiji was the chair of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation leading up to Paris. UNDP looks forward to supporting Fiji in this new role.

It is an honour to address this gathering on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations (UN) Country Team in the Pacific. I’m encouraged by the strong turnout for this Regional Dialogue on NDCs for the Pacific Islands, which demonstrates the importance of this topic and the commitment of countries from the Pacific region to taking meaningful action on climate change. I understand we have almost 50 representatives from across the Pacific, as well as representatives of donor countries, international and regional organizations, and other experts.  The government officials represent a wide variety of ministries that will be crucial to the NDC implementation process going forward, including ministries of environment, planning, finance, commerce, and public works, as well as sectoral line ministries.

This dialogue builds on a series of over a dozen previous regional and global dialogues organized by UNDP in collaboration with the UNFCCC Secretariat and other key partners.  In 2014-2015, in the lead-up to Paris, these dialogues supported countries in the preparation of their INDCs. Including a meeting in Samoa in September last year hosted by SPREP.

This year, we’ve continued the series of dialogues to catalyse countries’ preparations for the implementation of the contributions that they submitted in the context of the Paris Agreement. This dialogue in particular is co-organized by UNDP, the UNFCCC Secretariat, and the UNEP/UNDP Global Support Programme on National Communications and Biennial Update Reports.  I’d like to acknowledge our co-organizers for the fruitful collaboration in preparing for this event.  I would also like to warmly thank the Government of Fiji for hosting us here in beautiful Fiji.

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As we all know, developing countries – and especially low-lying, small island developing states – will be disproportionally affected by the effects of climate change. Our region is highly vulnerable to changes in the climate system. Despite significant efforts made in many countries, climate change significantly threatens the livelihoods of vulnerable populations, the survival of fragile ecosystems, agriculture, water availability, infrastructure, and services. 

Climate change can certainly produce a devastating effect on the economic and social progress that we are witnessing in many countries of the region threatening to reverse development achievements and improvements in quality of life.  Some effects include loss of habitable land due to sea-level rise and coastal inundation; loss of agricultural productivity due to salt-water intrusion and/or severe droughts and heavy rainfall; loss of marine food resources due to ocean acidification; infrastructural damages due to flooding; loss of human resource productivity due to increase in occurrences of vector-borne diseases, and others.  This is why, for UNDP, tackling climate change is at the heart of our efforts to help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and in turn reduce inequalities and reduce poverty. 

UNDP applauds the Paris Agreement, which offers new hope and marks an historic turning point in the world’s fight against climate change.  Alongside Agenda 2030, the Agreement launched a new era of global cooperation on climate change and development.  As you know, in the context of the Agreement, 189 Parties came forward including all of the Pacific Island countries with Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, representing approximately 98% of global emissions and an unprecedented commitment to bold action on climate change.  

Last month at COP-22 in Marrakech, Parties made progress toward defining a “rulebook” for the Paris Agreement.  Coming out of Marrakech, 193 Parties have now signed the Paris Agreement and 110 have turned their “intended” contributions into Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs.  This includes all the Pacific Island parties to the UNFCCC. This impressive momentum must continue going forward.

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UNDP supported 43 countries in preparing their INDCs in the lead-up to Paris, with generous support from the European Commission, Germany, and the Global Environment Facility.  Going forward, technical, financial, and capacity building assistance must continue to be provided to countries to turn these commitments into action.  Countries must be supported in rapidly transforming their economies and providing opportunities for greener, more sustainable development.  

With Paris behind us and countries’ NDCs submitted, now is the time to turn these contributions into concrete actions that achieve meaningful results.  Only by prioritizing and implementing concrete actions can we transform the ambitions of our NDCs into reality.  UNDP stands ready to continue supporting countries as they take bold actions on climate change in the context of their NDCs. 

UNDP is already helping countries to turn the aspirations of the Paris Agreement into action, drawing on our $2.8 billion climate portfolio in over 140 countries.  We are working in partnership with the Global Environment Facility, Green Climate Fund, multilateral and bilateral partners, private sector actors, and civil society to promote zero-carbon development and build climate-resilient nations and communities.  

I would like to take this time to point out the importance of cooperation and coordination amongst development partners. It will take a concerted effort from all actors including governments and administrations, private sector, civil society and development partners. At the regional level, we look to supporting opportunities for cooperation with CROP agencies and other partners to progress this important NDC work.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our generous donors, which make this dialogue possible.  These include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, the European Commission, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as the Global Environment Facility, which funds the Global Support Programme.  Many of these are also supporting countries directly on NDC implementation. We look forward to continued cooperation with our donors and country partners going forward.

In closing, I invite participants to take full advantage of this opportunity to learn from the experiences of your neighbors in preparing for NDC implementation and encourage you all to engage actively in discussions.  I wish you all a productive dialogue over the next two days.

On behalf of UNDP and the UN Country Team in the Pacific, I once again thank you for inviting me to this session and I wish you a very successful dialogue. Thank you very much.

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