By Gorethy Kenneth
Papua New Guinea (PNG), like all other Pacific Island nations, needs significant financial support to effectively have a strong response with other Pacific nations for an ambitious call to the landmark climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December.
Yvo De Boer, executive secretary to the UNFCCC Climate Change Secretariat in Germany, said this to the Post-Courier when interviewed at the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns this week.
The paper had an interview with Mr De Boer just before the final official press conference led by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, speaking as the chairman of the Forum in Cairns last night.
He said Papua New Guinea, being the largest Pacific Island nation and a country with the last forest frontier, by far one of the largest and last forest nations, was capable of assisting Australia and New Zealand in pushing for a strong and clear response to climate change issues despite being faced with one of the biggest problems of climate change – to relocate islanders of Carterets, other atolls and coastlands of PNG.
A specific mention was made on PNG by this executive, the fact that PNG is an influential nation because of its position with rainforest and being the largest Pacific island nation.
“This forum brings together Pacific countries who are suffering,” Mr De Boer said. The Pacific leaders lacked the knowledge on issues of climate change and were not well versed with it. “There has to be a strong political agreement and a strong engagement from the Pacific leaders,’’ he said.
Mr De Boer singled out the three critical issues that prompted his presence at the meeting in Cairns and they included: an ambitious target, strong response and financial support – the need for these Pacific nations to make a strong call to the world leaders to support them in their address to climate change issues.
“The Pacific needs a really solid assessment on how climate change will affect the country, economically and needs a strong and urgent response strategy in place to combat the issue which is now facing the specific nations,” Mr De Boer said. “It’s very important to remind politicians of these specific countries to seriously take into considerations the climate change issue. “
He said that Pacific Islands had the first climate change refugees – being two-fold – with Papua New Guinea, being the largest Pacific Island nation faced with an internal relocation of people followed by Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, not forgetting Fiji, while small island states like Tuvalu, Kiribati need to be assisted in complete relocation despite them not wanting to branded as refugees.
“My reason for being here? Well I came here because the Pacific Island countries cannot pay their own way out of this climate change issue,” Mr De Boer said during the interview.
“These Pacific countries need to make absolutely clear what their intentions are…yes, small island countries like Samoa have asked us for assistance and we have assisted them with their national adaptation plan.
“I also came to the 40th Pacific Island Forum Meeting here in Cairns with a message to tell the Pacific Islanders, this is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss. We need a strong and concerted response, ambitious target and yes, these Pacific Island countries need significant finance support to get the process going. There are funds available and there is nothing stopping Papua New Guinea from having access to these funds – one of them from the Global environment Facility. “It is more important to get the process going because we cannot waste time.”