REMARKS: SG Puna at opening of the PCC Otin Taai+20 conference, May 2024

Remarks and Speeches
06 May 2024

PIF Secretary General Henry Puna delivers opening remarks at the Otin Taai +20 Conference of the 
Pacific Council of Churches, hosted at PIF Secretariat the week of May 6, 2024.

The Otin Taai +20 Conference
Pacific Council of Churches
May 5 – 9, 2024

•    Secretary General of the Pacific Conference of Churches – Reverend James Bhagwan
•    Heads of our Pacific Churches and Councils
•    Partners
•    Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

•    A very warm greeting to your Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

•    It is a real privilege to be here, and I thank the organizers for choosing to host the meeting here at PIFS. It embodies what this organization and all of us that are here today, stand for – we are all in this together and it is about tackling the challenges posed by climate change from all aspects.  

•    It has been 20 years since the Otin Taai Declaration came into being and though time has moved on, the commitments underpinning the Otin Taai Declaration remain as relevant now. It is a sad reality that at the global level the urgency to tackle climate change impacts is not as forthcoming as we would like it to be.

•    It brings to the fore very real and difficult considerations on our very survival as peoples and communities, the future of our cultural values, heritage and traditional knowledge.

•    As a region, we have established strong foundations by which we as a region and the rest of the world can move forward together to ensure our survival.

Regional Frameworks

•    The 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific is our long-term collective vision and commitment as a region to ensure the well-being and prosperity of our people underpinned by values that promote accountability and respect for each other and support inclusivity, equity and equality.

•    Preserving our Blue Pacific home now and into perpetuity, through the landmark Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-related Sea Level Rise based on the spirit of the Convention of the Law of the Sea. This is further enforced by our Leaders Declaration on the Continuity of Statehood and the Protection of Persons in the Face of Climate Change-related Sea-Level Rise, which declares that our Statehood and Sovereignty will continue notwithstanding the impact of climate change.

•    The Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific and its complementary Pacific Resilience Partnership embeds the need to be inclusive, embracing the views and aspirations of a wide range of interests to help us withstand and overcome the shocks or stresses of climate change and disaster.

•    I am pleased to share that your Pacific Conference of Churches Secretariat has been with us and beside us to ensure that our regional frameworks are reflective of the fact that we are custodians of God’s creation and that our relationship with each other and with this earth that we call home should be underpinned by respect and reciprocity.  

Our Traditional Knowledge and Faith

•    As small developing island states, our people have endured harsh living conditions for centuries, with our traditional knowledge and faith underpinning our resilience and endurance. However, at the same time we acknowledge that our endurance and resilience is continually being tested from the impacts of climate change.

•    This conference today to reflect, reaffirm and redesign our course amid the escalating environmental crises, gives hope that we can and should overcome this issue.

•    It also highlights that the world needs to have this discussion and needs to look at new pathways which as stated in the Otin Taai – prioritises relationships, celebrates quality of life and values human beings and creation over the production of things.

•    I applaud the efforts by our Church leaders advocating for a narrative that highlights the interconnectedness of our actions with its impacts on the future and sustainability of our environment. Also the need to move to cleaner development pathways. It resonates very closely with what your Leaders have been advocating for at the global level.

•    I thank you all again for this opportunity and I wish everyone fruitful discussions and look forward to seeing the outcomes of this conference.

• I thank you. --ENDS