Solomon Islands Dr Melchior Mataki tells a COP 27 side event that climate change cannot be talked about in isolation of changes in the ocean affecting island states
THE issue of the Ocean must be given the attention, funding and the urgency it requires in terms of addressing the challenges in the agenda of the 27th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP).
This was underscored by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), Dr Melchior Mataki, during a COP 27 side event at the Moana Pacific Pavilion at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Dr Maitaki was amongst the panelists of the Tok Stori on Pacific as Indigenous Guardians of Global Climate and Biodiversity commons side event organised by the Solomon Islands Government.
“The oceans define who we are as a people, it defines our present and our future, we have always come from the ocean and we have always lived in the ocean,” Dr Mataki emphasised.
“For climate change to be meaningful for us in the Pacific, we have to really talk about the changes in the ocean. We are feeling the impacts of changes in the ocean, so you cannot talk about climate change and not talk about ocean change.”
The side event was amongst 70 side events scheduled at Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion over a two-week period. The Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion and the Pacific Delegation Office, at COP27 is a Pacific partnership with Aotearoa New Zealand. It is managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and designed to provide a platform for talanoa and knowledge-sharing on issues important to the Pacific especially advocacy for ambitious climate action and the need for financing.
The Tok Stori on Pacific as Indigenous Guardians of Global climate and biodiversity commons, organised by the Solomon Islands and the Nia Tero Foundation, aimed to tell nation’s stories of how they have impacted and are moving to deal with the climate crisis. It’s an initiative which started during the Ocean Conference held in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier this year.
The panelists included Solomon Islands Minister of Forestry and Research, Dixon Mua, Minister of Planning and National Coordination, Rexon Ramofafia, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Forestry and Research, Dr Vaeno Vigulu, Dr Edgar Pollard of the Sky Islands Initiative and Dr Mataki himself.
For Solomon Islands being at the global glare of COP27, is an opportunity to tell its stories to educate the masses about its experiences, Dr Mataki said.
“We are a large ocean people; our ancestors were one with the land and ocean. I grew up seeing my grandmother living on a man-made island, that she and my grandfather built to live as a family, some of which were made by my ancestors more than 500 centuries ago. My extended families still live on these islands today, their lives were connected to their surroundings, they know the seas, the winds and skies. It is our way of life.
“We are here today to tell the world that we are experiencing the impacts of climate change. The sea level is rising, yesterday in Honiara there was flooding, and it from just a trough, not even a low depression. We cannot wait for another COP and for the processes to be finalised. We have to act now,” Dr Maitaki said.
For Solomon Islands, the importance of the ocean cannot be understated in Sharm El-Sheikh.
“The ocean is the defining issue for us in the Pacific but not just from a negative perspective but also a positive perspective in that the oceans also holds our future and also holds the future in terms of adaptation and mitigation,” Dr Mataki said.
“I think this is what we should be pressing for. The ocean space needs to be given appropriate coverage directly in the agenda of the COP process, and that’s what Pacific island countries would be pushing here at in COP27 and future COPs.”
The 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP27) is being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from 6 to 18 November 2022.
It is being attended by Pacific leaders and their delegations, who are advocating for their survival.