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New York, U.S.A - Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum met with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on 21 September 2019 at UN Headquarters in New York, ahead of the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit and the seventy-fourth session of the UN General Assembly.
 
Forum Leaders highlighted critical priorities to securing the future of the Blue Pacific region, including those discussed at the 50th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in Tuvalu last month and also those raised with Secretary-General Guterres earlier this year when he visited the region.
 
“The Blue Pacific is the frontline of the fight against climate change which represents the single greatest threat to the future of our region,” said President of Nauru, H E Lionel Aingimea, who chaired the meeting on behalf of the Forum Chair, Tuvalu.
 
During the meeting Forum Leaders briefed the UN Secretary-General on the Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now agreed at the recent Forum meeting in Tuvalu. The Declaration sets out ten actions for urgent and effective climate change action by all countries at the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit and at COP 25 later this year.
 
“Kainaki is the Forum’s strongest statement on Climate Change. We hope it acts as a strong advocacy tool for the United Nations Secretary-General at the Climate Action Summit and provides a clear articulation of the action required by the international community,” said President Aingimea.
 
Leaders also took time to discuss the commitment to develop a new 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent to drive and lead the collective future of the Pacific region.
 
“We spoke about the importance of securing and protecting ocean and marine resources for the future of the Blue Pacific region, including our commitment to conclude all outstanding maritime boundaries claims in order to safeguard our maritime zones in the face of sea level rise and climate change.
 
“Our resolve to accelerate collective action to address the legacies of nuclear testing including on fisheries was also discussed,” said President Aingimea.
 
Secretary-General Guterres commended the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders for their determination to tackle the climate emergency – and the innovation they are demonstrating in doing so.
 
He outlined his expectation that “all countries come to this week’s Climate Action Summit with revised national commitments under the Paris Agreement and concrete plans for achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
 
The United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit takes place on 23 September at the United Nations in New York.
 
The Secretary-General commended national peacebuilding efforts in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, including towards the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. He also emphasised the importance of gender empowerment and the inclusion of youth.
 
Pacific Leaders also raised the situation in West Papua (Papua) at the meeting.
 
“Leaders reiterated their calls from the Forum Communique agreed in Tuvalu - for all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents and to address the root causes of the conflict by peaceful means. The urgency around the Leaders’ request for the parties to finalise the timing for a mission of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to West Papua (Papua) was also conveyed,” said Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor.

Pacific Islands Forum Heads of Delegation with United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, at the UN Headquarters in New York. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meet with UNSG ahead of the Climate Action Summit