Pacific Leaders Push for Action on Oceans and Renewable Energy in Bangkok

Leaders of five Pacific nations have urged a high-level Asia-Pacific United Nations regional meeting to take urgent action on climate change, renewable energy and ocean health.

Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga chaired the 73rd ESCAP Commission in Bangkok last week and called for those attending to create a world that rewards progressive countries who are taking action on climate change.
“Climate change is the greatest challenge time, and we are all well aware that one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases is considering withdrawing from the Paris Agreement,” said Prime Minister Sopoaga.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region, made up of 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members.
Reflecting the importance of the issues to Pacific nations and the threat presenting to the Pacific region by climate change, the meeting was also attended by the leaders of Tonga, Prime Minister Samiuela ʻAkilisi Pōhiva, the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI),  Dr. Hilda Heine, the President of Palau  Tommy E. Remengesau and the President of Nauru, Baron Waqa. High-level delegations were present from many other countries from around the Asia Pacific.
Speaking to the theme of the meeting ‘Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Energy’, President Dr. Hilda Heine noted the importance of efforts to boost renewable energy and efficiency.
“These are is an important goal for all nations – not only to curb harmful emissions under the Paris Agreement, but also in our own economic self-interest,” said President Dr. Hilde Heine of RMI.
Key outcomes of the meeting included the adoption of nine resolutions on important sustainable development issues for the Asia-Pacific such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sustainable transport, sustainable energy and ICT connectivity.
Of particular importance for the Pacific was the adoption of a resolution, sponsored by Fiji, to promote regional cooperation to restore the health of oceans and enhance data and statistical capacities to better integrate sustainable oceans into wider policymaking.
“For Islands, the ocean is our lifeblood, it is the source of food, of culture and the bedrock on which we build our economic development. Oceans are crucial to climatic and environmental stability and our coasts and high seas are a central source of food and resources globally,” said President of Palau Tommy E. Remengesau.
The Commission session provides a valuable platform for Pacific island member States to engage with leaders from Asia on key policy issues related to sustainable development.  
In closing the meeting, Executive Secretary and ESCAP and United Nations Under Secretary-General Dr. Shamshad Akthar said the deliberations at session showed countries’ determination to move forward on a common development agenda.
“The spirit of openness and willingness to work within and beyond borders in Asia Pacific is critical to enhancing multilateralism and to building a better future for our children,” said Dr. Shamshad Akthar.