Fiji’s Minister for Fisheries and Forests, Hon. Osea Naiqamu led Fiji’s delegation to the 59th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which was in session from 14 – 18 September in Vienna, Austria.
The Minister also signed Fiji’s first Country Programme Framework (CPF) with the IAEA this week, which provides the framework of technical cooperation programmes between Fiji and the Agency in the peaceful uses of atomic energy for the period 2016 – 2021.
In delivering Fiji’s statement, Minister Naiqamu highlighted the high prevalence of cancer morbidity and mortality in Fiji and the region, “with a majority of these cancer victims being women: our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters, productive members of our Pacific societies that are fighting a losing battle against this dreadful disease.”
He thanked the IAEA for working closely with the Fijian government in the establishment of a cancer radiotherapy center in Suva.
“To date, there is no existing cancer radiotherapy centre to provide the essential preventative, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and palliative care services for the people of our region.”
“The international community represented here in the Agency should recognise as our moral obligation, the affordable access by the forgotten millions across the global divide, to what is considered a basic medical service in developed countries. This is consistent with SDG3 which seeks to “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all”, the Minister said.
The Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) was highlighted as Fiji’s preferred vehicle, in collaboration with technical regional organisations such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and inclusive dialogue with the Forum, in areas of technical cooperation coming under Fiji’s CPF and the UN post-2015 development agenda.
“As a small island developing state, Fiji recognises the important mandate that the IAEA is proactively pursuing at the global level towards the maintenance of peace and security; and through regional and national sustainable development strategies via the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in the areas of climate change; food security; renewable energy; human health; water resource management; sustainable agriculture; amongst others.”
“With some of our Pacific Island countries already sinking beneath the waves, their very existence under grave threat; we look to the IAEA for sustainable solutions in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.”
“The fact that 13 out of the 17 SDGs have clear linkages to the IAEA mandate through the utilisation of Science, Technology and Innovation, Fiji’s membership in this forum has never been better placed.”
“The Pacific region is the most isolated and neglected region in the world. Today, we appeal to our development partners across the globe to engage with us, through South-South and Triangular Cooperation initiatives to lift our Pacific peoples out of poverty, to survive the destructive impacts of climate change so that they may also live decent and honourable lives.”
Minister Naiqamu added that “amidst the vortex of the state of play in global affairs, we have faith in humanity to secure a working formula towards the sustainable development of all mankind, one that can only thrive in the necessary environment of world peace and security.”
Other projects which are covered under the IAEA CPF with Fiji include pest control for international trade, marine biodiversity, crop resilience and food security, water sampling laboratory, amongst others. The delegation also met with the Director General of the IAEA, Mr Yukiya Amano to discuss the best way forward for Fiji’s effective membership in the organisation that will touch people’s lives and improve their well-being.
The Fijian delegation includes the Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr Meciusela Tuicakau; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director UN/Treaties Bureau Ms Setaita Tupua-Kalou and Fiji’s National Representative to the Regional Cooperative Agreement Professor Olasoji Ajibulu of the Fiji National University.