The Commission on Population and Development is underway at the United Nations this week, addressing a theme of “realizing the future we want: integrating population issues into sustainable development, including in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.” This morning, the Commission heard a statement from the Fijian delegation highlighting population issues from Fiji and the Pacific Small Island Developing States.
In addressing the Commission, the head of the Fijian delegation and Fiji’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Peter Thomson, said that, “More than two decades after the landmark Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, we are reminded of the global consensus under which our governments set out an ambitious agenda to deliver inclusive, equitable and sustainable global development.” He said Fiji’s commitment to this global consensus had been unwavering.
The Fiji statement to the Commission set out that, like other Small Island Developing States, Fiji is faced with implementation challenges imposed by geography and demographics. Ambassador Thomson told the Commission that, “successfully addressing the core ICPD issues is made all the more challenging by new demographic challenges arising from growing environmental pressures, including through the impacts of climate change, such as the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters.”
Fiji’s Ambassador said the recent Tropical Cyclone Pam that devastated Vanuatu was a case in point, with decades of development being undone in a day by such natural disasters. He said Fiji has had to relocate foreshore villages due to rising sea levels, with many more planned for relocation in the future in order to safeguard the health and right to development of the people of these communities. “Thus, achieving meaningful solutions from the Paris COP this December, coupled with honest implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, is the most trustworthy path we can see towards sustainable lives for our people.”
Ambassador Thomson reported to the Commission that the people of Fiji were fortified by the 2013 Constitution’s firm provisions on development issues, highlighting its enshrining of a broad range of civil, political and socio-economic rights. He said it was now incumbent upon Government to ensure the right to education, the right to economic participation, and of special relevance to the ICPD, the right to health.
He said that under section 31 of the Constitution, the State is required to take reasonable measures to achieve the conditions and facilities for the good health of all citizens, and to provide health care services, including reproductive health care. To complement the work of the Fijian Government, and that of the Governments of other Pacific Small Island Developing States towards the progressive realization of all human rights, Ambassador Thomson called for concerted action by the international community in support of such national efforts.