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Urgency and unity central at Fiji-led climate conference

Max Thabiso Edkins's picture

The inspiring slogan of the UN Climate Change conference COP23 “Uniting for Climate Action – Further Faster Together” still reverberates in my daily thoughts. The World Bank Group partnered with the Fijian Presidency, the German hosts and numerous partners to spread the message of unity, and the urgent need to increase ambition and action.


The World Bank Group pavilion featured more than thirty Facebook live interviews under the Uniting4Climate message, see the full recordings here. Climate solutions were discussed by global leaders, media and influencers and the program featured World Bank Group related work on transport, energy, forests and landscapes, gender, cities, education and much more. Lord Nicholas Stern emphasized that climate action is fundamentally about “sustainable growth,” largely achieved through investments in climate-smart infrastructure with the participation of the private sector.

On November 6, for the opening of COP23, Minister Inia Seruiratu of Fiji launched the pavilion program conversing with three Pacific Voices in Unison youth climate ambassadors from different Pacific nations. Minister Seruiratu, High-Level Climate Champion for COP23, emphasized that climate change affects all, not only the Pacific Islands, that “we are all in the same boat” with the aim of limiting warming to 1.5C degrees above pre-industrial levels. Key to climate action would be the leadership of young people as exemplified by the Pacific Voices in Unison, who shared their journeys of resilience in light of climate change with personal statements.

Youth leadership was celebrated around COP23 under the slogan: Youth Uniting4Climate Action – Further Faster Together. The World Bank’s Connect4Climate program partnered on the Youth Climate Action Awards to highlight that today’s youth are already feeling the impacts of climate change and they are the generation energized to find opportunities in climate action and building a low-carbon resilient future.

Climate action is set to be one of our greatest opportunities, with an estimated investment of US$ 90 trillion in new infrastructure needed by 2030, according to the New Climate Economy. Much climate action is already taking place, and solutions were presented and promoted throughout the conference. The Momentum for Change Awards highlighted projects already supporting the achievement of the Paris Agreement, and the Climate Summit for Local and Regional Leaders emphasized action at the local scale.

COP23 emphasized the need for climate literacy to help train innovators and technology-developers for the green economy. James Close, Director of Climate Change, World Bank, highlighted: “We need to transform our society and our economy and we all have a role to play. Education gives us the opportunity to touch young minds and frame their thinking and problem-solving by giving them tools, evidence, and data to come up with their own conclusions about what to do and how to do it.”

Not only did we connect with audiences in Bonn, we also brought the voices and culture of Fiji to COP23 with two Fiji Live to COP23: Uniting for Climate Action broadcasts on the COP23 Facebook page during the high-level days, November 15 and 16. As a historical first the live shows were shown on all screens across the COP venues, including in the Plenary, and were watched more than 100,000 times. Hosted by Fiji’s Youth Climate Ambassador and Miss Pacific Islands, Anne Dunn, and featuring a special address by the Fijian President, George Konrote, the shows underscored the urgent need for the negotiations to support ambitious climate action.

Having felt the energy and vigor behind the “Uniting for Climate Action – Further Faster Together” slogan I repeat the words of Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama: “We don’t need to fear the future if we have the courage to act now.


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