Pacific Leaders endorse new security deal

PHOTO: Nauruan dancers entertaining during the Forum leaders meeting this week


FRIDAY 07 SEPTEMBER 2018: The Pacific’s new security agreement, the Boe Declaration, expands the concept of security to include human security, humanitarian assistance, environmental security and regional co-operation.

The declaration was endorsed by the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru on Wednesday.

“These are new emerging issues since the last Biketawa Declaration in 2000 and we’ve tried to include them in the new Boe Declaration,” Nauru President Baron Waqa said.

“The biggest victory for Pacific island nations is the ‘reaffirmation by member countries, including Australia and New Zealand that climate change remains the greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.

“Some of these issues regarding climate change are contentious and individual countries have their own policies. I am glad that we can push hard enough to make sure that we reflect our concerns in the strong language and we are happy that we’ve asserted that.”

He confirmed all member countries wanted to keep the concerns of the Pacific about climate change in the Boe Declaration.

“Everyone wanted to keep the language strong in the Boe Declaration.”

The theme of this year’s Forum kept reminding Forum countries they needed to be strong, Mr Waqa explained to journalists late on Wednesday night.

Nauru President, Baron Waqa, addresses members of the media Photo: PI Forum Secretariat


That call was supported by Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga, the host of next year’s Pacific Islands Forum.

“It has been a tradition to just note simply but this time we have appealed to Forum Leaders to endorse it so that we can walk the talk.

“I am very happy that the language has moved to further strengthen the call by Pacific Island Countries that climate change is the single greatest threat to the livelihoods of Pacific Island peoples. We are not simply calling but urging all major emitters to immediately implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in accordance with the Paris Agreement,” Mr Sopoaga said

He urged major emitters to step up for more robust, ambitious and comprehensive NDCS to the climate talks in Poland in December this year.

“The main point there is to reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius. We now have the draft report of the IPCC on 1.5 degrees Celsius. If that cap is not going to be reached, there is going to be serious problems for countries like Tuvalu, probably going down by 2030.

“2030 is not far away because while our grandchildren will still be growing up, part of our islands, Kiribati and may be Nauru will be submerged based on those predictions.

He said the issue was serious for the Forum’s smaller island nations and a matter of survival for them.

Pacific Islands Forum leaders gather for a group photo ahead of their retreat. Photo: Nauru Government

Pacific Leaders have also requested the United Nations Secretary General appoint a Special Adviser on climate change and security. They’ve also asked the UN to appoint a special rapporteur to produce a regular review of global, regional and national security threats caused by climate change.

“We want to raise the level of importance we place on climate change to the United Nations because we feel it is not getting that recognition. This representative will be able to utilise the experiences of our nations in the Pacific and provide a pathway to the highest level in the hope that our issues are addressed at the highest level of the UN,” Mr Waqa explained.

Marise Payne, Australia’s new Foreign Affairs Minister said her government supported the Boe Declaration particularly on issues around transnational crime and cyber security.

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders later affixed the imprint of their palm on cement in the Western Bay area, overlooking the sea in Boe District as their endorsement of the new agreement.

Leaders have tasked the Forum secretariat in Suva to draw up a plan to implement the declaration by November 2018