Remarks by Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor to the Women’s Leadership in Climate Diplomacy Breakfast

Remarks Delivered by Meg Taylor DBE

Secretary General – The Pacific Islands Forum


The Westin Resort & Spa, Fiji

Wednesday 18 October


·        Incoming President of COP 23 and Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, the Honourable Frank Bainimarama

·        Honorable Ministers and Senator Concetta Fierravanti – Wells

·        Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen


[Introductory Remarks]

 As the region prepares for COP 23 to be held in Bonn next month, Pacificpeoplewilllook to the region’s leadership for the political guidance necessary, to ensure a strong representation of the Pacific region, and of Small Island States at COP 23.

I join you all this morning, having just arrived from the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC. Imentionthis because it was both striking and encouraging to see the strong advocacy and leadership by Small Island States, from the Pacific and the Caribbean, and in particular on the need for resilient development; easier access to global climate funds; and the need to be innovative in our advocacy, our partnerships and importantly in our solutions to address the challenges that beset and besiege us because of our heightened vulnerabilities as a result of climate change.


[Recognising regional champions for climate advocacy]

I would like first to commend Fiji as COP President for identifying gender, local communities and indigenous peoples’ platform as one of the five priorities for COP23 and our Forum Leaders for endorsing this at their meeting in Apia last month. 

In considering innovative advocacy and partnerships for climate diplomacy, this morning’s dialogue presents us with the opportunity to reflect on the leadership role of Pacific women – how they have and how they must continue to be involved in driving solutions that seek to address our climate challenges, including strengthening gender balance and inclusive participation under the UNFCCC as well as increasing decision-making of women in all spheres, for livelihoods and wellbeing as climate change cuts across everything.

Irecognisea number of our region’s women who have championed climate advocacy, invarious dimensions.

Theseinclude in our national governments our Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York - Ambassadors Marlene Moses ofNauru, Jane Chigiyal of the Federated States of Micronesia, Amatalain Kabua of the Marshall Islands, Makareta Baaro of Kiribati and Olai Uludong ofPalau, who have and who continue to be active climate champions and advocates for the region including through thebroaderAssociation of Small Island States; and in our regional agencies women such as Dr Netatua Pelesikoti from Tonga who served the region as the Director of SPREP’s Climate Change Division until a few months ago; I also wish to recognise Ms Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner of the Marshall Islands, a strong climate activist, poet and strong voice for Pacific Youth. I am sure that many would recall her powerful delivery of Dear Matafele Peinam at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit and Fiji’s Noelene Nabulivou who leads campaigns that advocate for equality and partnerships on women and gender, climate change and sustainable development.

However, more can and more needs to be done at the local, national and regional levels, to improve women’s full engagement and participation and to recognise that women’s contribution to addressing and combatting the challenges of climate change in all fields and leadership at all levels of decision making in the public and private sectors is absolutely necessary.

Climate change does not discriminate –we are sure of that. The gender impacts of climate and disaster risks suggest that women are more likely to be killed by disasters than men. Studies show that the gender gap in mortality increases as the magnitude of the disaster increases.

Excellencies, Ladiesandgentlemen,we can draw from these conclusions to infer that as climate change throws-out stronger and longer droughts and more ferocious cyclones, women and girls will – unfortunately - be disproportionately affected. Many will suffer more than double the burden as other members in our communities.

How can we improve this disparity? Studies show that disparity is reduced when women have improved social and economic well-being. This underscores the importance of continued economic empowerment of women and, more generally, the importance of adopting a whole of government approach to inclusiveness of all when we address and mainstream gender issues in our economies.

[Achieving Gender Balance and Inclusive Participation under the UNFCCC]

It is no secret that we can all, together, do more to strengthen women’s representation in public policy development and leadership at regional and national levels, including recognition of women’s participation in our respective economies.

The 2012 Pacific Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration is testament to political leadership and commitment to gender issues - but to implement this, more needs to be done such as strengthening and targetting capacity building initiatives for women,andensuringthat dedicated spaces for genuine engagement on issues and priorities that are important to us are given and grasped by Women.

To this end, the Secretariat has valued the partnership with the Australian Government and the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation to deliver the Pacific Women’s Climate Change Negotiators Workshop. In January and August of 2017, we were able to co-host two workshops, and we are particularly pleased that 20 participants from the two workshops will be part of their respective government delegations in Bonn, next month.

Opportunities for strengthened participation also exist through the Pacific Resilience Partnership, which seeks to implement the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific. This potentiality provides space and engagement both in-countries at national and sub-national levels, and in and across the region given the transboundary effects of climate change and disaster risks.

For the COP23 the Gender Action Plan which is one of the main priorities outlined by the COP23 Presidency, presents an opportunity to ensure that our global, regional and national aspirations around gender equality and women’s leadership and decision making is captured, resourced and tracked.

I would encourage us all to use the existing political instruments such as the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, their Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development and the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific as the impetus to focus and strengthen gender issues and policies at the national and regional levels – to progress gender equality in the areas of decision-making, economic empowerment, ending violence against women and in health and education. These however need to be seen in the broader context spanning the extent of - at the regional level the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and at national levels, member government’s national sustainable development plans.

Climate leadership and advocacy remains crucial for our region and must include the voices of all stakeholders. Outside of their intellectual contributions and initiative - I believe that women bring an intuitive perspective to all situations - we should recognise and capitalise on this as we build our resilience to climate change and disaster risks for our families, for our communities and countries - for The Blue Pacific and for our Blue Planet.

Thank you

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