“SIDS Must Continue to Demand Urgent Climate Action From Biggest Emitters” – Samoa Prime Minister

"United as SIDS, we must not tire from demanding urgent and ambitious climate action, especially form the biggest emitters. This is about our survival as nations, and as a people".

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Samoa Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa has stated that members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) should continue to show leadership through ambitious climate action, and remain united to ensure they do not tire of demanding urgent and ambitious climate action from the world’s biggest emitters.

“This is about our survival as nations, and as a people”, said Fiame who also stressed the need for world leaders to ensure commitments under the Paris agreement were followed.

“Samoa stresses that as SIDS, our priority is to ensure the world meets the promise of the Paris Agreement, to limit warming to 1.5 degrees celsius. Exceeding this will be catastrophic for us,” said Fiame, also a former Minister of Environment and Natural Resources for Samoa

The Samoa Prime Minister was delivering her interventions during the AOSIS Leaders’ Summit 2021, held online last week, on the margins of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City.

Fiame acknowledged the strong leadership of Hon Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, as Chair of the AOSIS.

“You have Samoa’s full support as you lead AOSIS during these trying times. This meeting is timely and critical. The challenges for SIDS continue to multiply, with possible irreversible damage.”

Fiame also extended condolences to member states faced with loss of loved ones due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those recently impacted by natural disasters.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the continuous struggle we face due to the worsening impacts of climate change; reinforce why SIDS remain a special case for sustainable development…COVID-19 provides serious barriers to the COP26 attendance for some of us. We need to factor this into our strategy, as we prepare to defend our positions at the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow,” stressed Fiame.

Fiame reaffirmed Samoa’s commitment to support AOSIS and all SIDS to put its issues under the global spotlight for urgent action.

“The SIDS priorities and our on-going challenges highlighted in the SAMOA Pathway remain relevant to date. Despite our best efforts and those of the UN and our partners, to respond to our particular and unique vulnerabilities; we are still left in a precarious position compared to the rest of the world”.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldives also addressed the conference and stated that although member states of AOSIS may be small countries scattered around the globe, “our shared vision and unity ensures that AOSIS is loud and a powerful force for change”.

AOSIS is an intergovernmental organisation of low-lying coastal and small island countries established in 1990 ahead of the Second World Climate Conference. The main purpose of the alliance is to consolidate the voices of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to address international environmental policy with a focus on global warming.

The Paris Agreement is the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate change agreement, adopted at the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015.

Governments agreed to a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase of global temperatures to 1.5°C, as a climate mitigation strategy to significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change.

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STATEMENT BY HONOURABLE FIAME NAOMI MATAAFA, PRIME MINISTER OF THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF SAMOA AT THE AOSIS LEADERS’ SUMMIT
(22 September 2021 – Virtual)

Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and Chair of AOSIS
Heads of State and Government
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen

I wish to thank Prime Minister Browne and Antigua and Barbuda for its strong leadership since taking on the Chairmanship of AOSIS. You have Samoa’s full support as you lead AOSIS during these trying times. This meeting is timely and critical. The challenges for SIDS continue to multiply, with possible irreversible damage. The COVID-19 pandemic and the continuous struggle we face due to the worsening impacts of climate change; reinforce why SIDS remain a special case for sustainable development.

I also extend my sincere condolences to members of our SIDS family that have suffered loss of loved ones due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and also for those that were recently devastated by natural catastrophes.

Excellencies,

The SIDS priorities and our on-going challenges highlighted in the SAMOA Pathway remain relevant to date. Despite our best efforts and those of the UN and our partners, to respond to our particular and unique vulnerabilities; we are still left in a precarious position compared to the rest of the world.

I am pleased to support the AOSIS Leaders’ Declaration which highlights the most pressing challenges, key priorities and suggested solutions tailored to address SIDS needs. Despite the grim realities ahead of us, our resilience will help us build pathways critical to our survival. Let us invest in our home grown solutions; benefit from more SIDS-SIDS cooperation and ensure simplified access to the needed and promised financial and technical support to SIDS. While our mitigation efforts can have little impact on total global emissions, we should continue to show leadership through our more ambitious climate action. United as SIDS, we must not tire from demanding urgent and ambitious climate action, especially form the biggest emitters. This is about our survival as nations, and as a people.

Samoa stresses that as SIDS, our priority is to ensure the world meets the promise of the Paris Agreement, to limit warming to 1.5 degrees celcius. Exceeding this will be catastrophic for us. This remains the guiding goal that influences our approach and decisions as we continue to engage in the climate change negotiations. COVID-19 provides serious barriers to the COP26 attendance for some of us. We need to factor this into our strategy, as we prepare to defend our positions at the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow.

Excellencies,

Multilateral systems, partners and institutions need to heed the continued call for tailored and SIDS specific solutions to our unique vulnerabilities. This is required to support SIDS in meeting their sustainable development goals and supporting our COVID-19 recovery. Vaccinations are an important part of the build back better equation. The readiness of our partners in particular the COVAX facility and our efforts to find early opportunities have ensured we have sufficient vaccines to cover the eligible population. Tomorrow, Samoa will go into a two-day lockdown, to carry out mass vaccination. In addition to vaccination protection, therefore welcome the establishment of the multi-dimensional vulnerability index, which provides for a wider lens on vulnerability.

For Samoa, ocean is core and central to our way of life as SIDS. Its conservation and sustainable use remains a high priority. Implementing SDG14 is an imperative and we need a coordinated and urgent global response to end marine litter and plastic pollution.

Securing our maritime zones against the threat of climate change-related sea-level rise is key to preserving our existing rights and entitlements stemming from maritime zones. The Pacific Leaders endorsed and important “Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the face of Climate Change Related Sea Level Rise” to this end. As SIDS, we must ensure that our legal entitlements as sovereign nations are not lost nor challenged due to sea-level rise.

Samoa reaffirms its commitment to support AOSIS and all SIDS to put our issues under the global spotlight for urgent action.

Thank you for attention.