Mr Travis Mitchell and members of the Commonwealth Team
Representatives of the international organisations present here today
Representatives of the regional organisations
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is an honour for me to welcome you all to Samoa. If you are visiting for the first time and are still muddled about your current geographical position, be assured that we are the first country to see the rising sun every day. And barring any surprises from the impacts of climate change, we are at the end of the cyclone season and at a point where we can breathe easier from the risks of disasters.
Samoa is happy to host this 5th Global Biennial conference with the theme “Building Resilience through Disaster Risk Reduction”. The theme of the conference allows us all as small states to reflect on important disaster risk reduction concerns, including an opportunity to take stock of progress towards some of the important frameworks we are party to, namely the SAMOA Pathway and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Furthermore, we could also come to an agreement here in Apia on an advocacy message ahead of the UNISIDR Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction scheduled for May this year.
I understand that the meeting is organised to provide ample opportunities for small states to determine appropriate solutions to reduce their disaster risk and better recover from such events when they occur. As well there will be consultations with regional and international development partners as well as the private sector on what products and services are available in the disaster risk and disaster finance areas.
I also understand that you have already begun these discussions, starting with the capacity building training course on disaster finance and disaster risk management held these past two days. I commend the work and continued support provided by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the World Bank in this regard, including those similarly provided by our regional and international development partners.
We all represent [small] States that are vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change and natural disasters. Disaster risk management, as you well know, is a development and sustainable development issue for all our governments. Ensuring adequate financing to effectively address the negative impacts of climate change and disasters is fundamental. In the Pacific region, Forum Leaders have consistently called for increased access to, and better management of, climate change and disaster risk finance. Pacific Forum Leaders in 2016 aimed, to support regional and national coordination efforts on a number of key issues related to climate change and disaster risk management, among others and adopted the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific in particular ensuring an integrated approach to building and sustaining resilience.
Let us all make appropriate use of the programme and find for each one of our countries the silver lining of our efforts to reduce risk and enhance resilience. Given the constraints of time, you might not have the chance to travel outside Apia and see what Samoa is really like. Be assured that the cultural excursion we are providing will offer a glimpse into our way of life, our adaptations to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters and how we have built resilience to the risks involved including through the use of traditional knowledge.
I wish you all fruitful discussions and sharing of experiences and good practices. It is my privilege to now declare this 5th Global Biennial Conference for small states open.