The Minister for Fisheries, Hon. Semi Koroilavesau, led Fiji’s delegation to the Sixth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), which was held in Bangkok on 27-29 March 2019. The APFSD serves as the premiere regional platform for countries to share perspectives on the Sustainable Development Goals, support the presentation of their Voluntary National Reviews and assess progress made on the regional road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Under the theme “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”, this year’s APFSD featured an in-depth review of six Sustainable Development Goals including Goal 4 (quality education), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), and 17 (partnerships). Regional inputs from the forum will feed into the United Nation’s High-Level Political Forum in July and the General Assembly in September.
Hon. Koroilavesau took part in the Ministerial Panel and delivered a statement on “Empowering vulnerable communities such as the fishing community and the role of traditional and indigenous knowledge in building climate resilience”.
“The Pacific is a well-known vulnerable fishing community. Our exposure to climate change and its adverse effects has been well documented. Sea level continues to rise; oceans are becoming warmer; storm surges continue to worsen; extreme weather events are the new norm now; islands are sinking; communities have been and will be relocated. This will become more significant and pronounced as the nexus between climate change and oceans continues to gain traction”, said Hon. Koroilavesau.
He also delivered Fiji’s statement on the Voluntary National Review (VNR), a report on the progress of Fiji’s implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals which will be submitted to the UN this year. While updating the forum, he said that Fiji’s VNR is almost complete and various stakeholders including NGOs, CSOs, and the private sector will be consulted before the final report is submitted.
Hon. Koroilavesau’s last statement was delivered on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum members. Among others, he encouraged the UN system to continue to advance collective efforts to improve the coherence of the global, regional, sub-regional and national accountability processes for the SAMOA Pathway and the Sustainable Development Goals and a more systematic approach to collaboration between the Pacific regional organisations and UN organisations.
The APFSD concluded with a number of key messages including the impact of climate change in the region, especially on vulnerable populations, which emerged as a key concern and the need to strengthen inclusive decision-making on issues of environment, natural resource management and food security.