Pacific leaders are calling for developed nations to pay for climate-related loss and damage at COP27 and the regional drug trade is in the spotlight.
The COP27 summit commenced in Egypt over the weekend, with Pacific leaders advocating for stronger international commitments on climate change. Pacific demands include scaling up efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, and a commitment by developed countries to double their 2019 funding for climate adaptation efforts by 2025.
Pacific delegates are also advocating for a loss and damage finance facility, which Pacific Islands Forum Chairman Frank Bainimarama said must be ‘in the order of $750 billion, with at least 10 per cent of climate finance destined for small island states’. The establishment of a loss and damage fund has previously been blocked by the United States, Australia, and European Union countries, but the fund is on the formal agenda at Sharm el-Sheikh.
The 2022 Young Pacific Leaders TechCamp for Climate Change got underway in Auckland, featuring representatives from 16 Pacific Island countries. The event, sponsored by the American Department of State, is intended to generate innovative solutions to the impacts of the climate crisis through technology and knowledge sharing.
Many delegates used the opportunity to advocate for Indigenous-centred solutions. Inangaro Vakaafi, the only representative from Niue at the conference, stated that “in this whole climate crisis, this whole search for climate justice, I think we need Indigenous liberation.” Participants returned home with grant-funded projects to mobilise climate change stakeholders in their communities.
In Samoa, the Pacific Transnational Crime Network (PTCN) met in person for the first time in three years for its 20th anniversary. The PTCN is designed to promote intelligence sharing and investigative assistance, with this year’s theme of ‘reconnections and reflections’ intended to create a platform for exploring shared challenges and opportunities.
The PTCN meeting took place as Pacific states are increasingly impacted by the transnational drug trade, both as points of transit and production. The effects of this are evident in Fiji, where drug-related offences have gone up by 750 per cent, from 200 in 2013 to over 1,500 in 2020.
The Pacific’s centrality to the Asian drug trade has led Jeremy Douglas, the regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, to highlight the need for Pacific law enforcement to pay more attention to external threats.
Delegates from 14 Pacific states have signed the Regional Action Framework for Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Prevention and Control in the Western Pacific at the 73rd session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee in Manila.
In addition to emphasising health risks, the framework focuses on the economic impacts of NCDs, such as decreased labour productivity and increased pressure on health services. NCDs are the single biggest killer in the Pacific Island region, taking the lives of at least six people every day in Solomon Islands alone.
The 2022 Fijian general election date has been set for 14 December. Writing for Radio New Zealand, political commentator Dr Shailendra Singh said cost of living is likely to be the central election issue.
Nearly 30 per cent of Fiji’s population experienced poverty in 2020 and up to half of all citizens are reportedly struggling financially.
Violence has broken out on Papua New Guinea’s Kiriwina Island, leaving an estimated 24 people dead. The conflict is said to be linked to an unresolved death from two months ago, allegedly the result of a fight that took place at a soccer match just after the national elections. There were no police stationed on the island when the fighting commenced, and though the situation has de-escalated, tensions remain.
Finally, after more than six weeks without a high-level court in Kiribati, Attorney General Tetiro Semilota has been appointed as acting Chief Justice. Semilota is the first woman and only i-Kiribati to hold the position.