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New York, USA – September 26, 2019: 12pm (Nuku’alofa Times): Tonga is committed to achieving a 50/50 reliance of renewable energy by 2020 as part of its drive to reduce the effect of climate change in the Kingdom.

His Majesty King Tupou VI said this was Tonga’s priority National Determined Contribution, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly here in New York today.

“We have been able to negotiate funding required to achieve this and we would like to thank partners alike that assist Tonga through Public and Public/Private financing as well to accelerate my country’s transition to renewable energy and resilient infrastructure in support of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG )7 and its targets,” King Tupou VI said.

King Tupou VI addressing the UN General Assembly today. Photo: UN MEDIA

SDG 7 is ensuring access to affordable and clean energy for all.

In that regard Tonga has been working with partners and funders on the installation of wind farms and solar energy farms in the past four years.

His Majesty said Tonga will do wa=hat she has committed to and will support the work of the United Nations and other international organisations working for climate action.

He thanked the former UN General Assembly Chair Maria Fernanda Espinosa for “making the UN relevant to all peoples through global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies”.

His Majesty also commend UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “for his inaugural visit to the Pacific Islands region in May this year and his continued stewardship of the Secretariat”.

King Tupou VI said Tonga fully supports the ongoing work that Mr Guterres is undertaking on reform of the UN to ensure its relevance and utility for all member states.

He also congratulated Mr Tijjani Muhammad of Nigeria in his capacity as the new President of the 74th UN General Assembly.

“My delegation and I congratulate you on your four priorities to guide our work this session, promoting international peace and security, in particular conflict prevention;  strengthening global action to tackle climate change, which is integral to the effective implementation of SDGs; promoting  inclusion, human rights and the empowerment of youths and women respectively and promoting partnerships for advancing the achievements of the SDGs which are interlinked very timely and relevant to addressing the challenges of our time during your tenure, which we support fully,” His Majesty said.

“We welcome your recognition of the challenges faced by Small Island delegations such as ours to ensure that we can contribute equitably and effectively to the many important high level meetings you will convene this session.

“With the five Summits this week alone and in addition to the general debate we are grateful to your particular attention to enabling smaller delegations to participate fully.”

SAMOA Pathway

King Tupou VI said Tonga continues its commitments to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDGs including the SAMOA Pathway.

“We are pleased to participate at the High Level Mid Term Review of the SAMOA Pathway tomorrow to ensure its goals are being met at the half way point of its implementation,” he said.

“The government’s Sustainable Development Priorities remain aligned with 13 of the 17 SDGS, namely Goals  1 to 4, 6 to 9 and 13 to 17.

“Tonga’s first Voluntary National Review Report presented at the High Level Political Forum in July this year spoke to the localization of the SDGs and the SAMOA Pathway, through the Tonga Strategic Development Framework.

“A whole of Government approach for coordinated and coherent service delivery continues to be a priority.

“We again recognise the important contribution to our efforts by the United Nations Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs and the UN ESCAP office.

“We are also grateful for the enhanced engagement of the UN Office for project services in Tonga through our recently concluded host country agreement.”

Climate Action

His Majesty told the General Assembly that Tonga welcomed the convening of the Climate Change Summit earlier this week.

“My country engaged fully in a seminal gathering of leaders to again give prominence to threats posed by climate change, with its direct links to international peace and security, and thereby to our sustainable development aspirations in support of SDG 13 and its targets,” he said.

His Majesty speaking at the UN General Assembly. Photo: UN MEDIA

King Tupou Vi said that the  1.5 degree limit is the heart of the Paris Agreement and although Tonga and the Pacific Small Island Developing States neighbours  as a whole contribute not even close to 1 percent of global warming, “we remain committed to this agreement”.

He said for Tonga, securing climate finance is the main priority as we vetted no action on our Nationally Determined Contributions is possible.

And he added that “we welcome the announcement by the United Kingdom of its intention to double its contribution to the Green Climate Fund”.

King Tupou Vi said climate change was now a crisis in the Pacific.

“Pacific Leaders in Tuvalu last month endorsed the strongest statement to date on Climate Change – the Kainaki 2 Declaration declared  a climate change crisis in the Pacific Islands region and called for urgent action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastrophic global warming and disasters,” he said.

“Extreme events like cyclones and typhoons, flooding , drought and king tides are frequently more intense, inflicting damage and destruction to our communities and eco systems and putting the health of our people at risk.”

King Tupou Vi said he thought of the “fellow islanders in the Bahamas as they work to recover after the devastation impact and destruction in the wake of Hurricane Dorian”.

“Climate change is not only a political issue for us but also one of survival,” he said.

“The fact that climate change is an existing threat and a matter of national peace and security was again endorsed by Pacific leaders through their decisions to develop the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific continent.

“We continue to support the work of the group of friends for climate and security.”

Ocean

King Tupou Vi said Tonga Realises the close connection between the climate and the ocean.

And further continue to note the devastating impact of climate change on our marine environment.

“We look forward to deliberations on this link in Chile on the 25th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change later this year,” he said.

He said the important issues of baselines of our maritime boundaries once established under the UN Convention of the Laws of the Seas Treaty should not be affected and should remain unchanged despite the effects of sea level rise.

And our sovereignty must not be compromised by the effects o climate change and we continue to welcome the work of the International commission on this critically important and timely issue for consideration of the 6th Committee for the General Assembly.

He sad Tonga has contributed its engagement in this year’s second and third inter-governmental conferences on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

“We look forward to the next revision of the Zero Draft of the Treaty. We hope that the ongoing convergence of understanding by member states engaging in the process will find completion at the 4th and final conference early next year,” he said.

“We also welcome the establishment of the group of friends on capacity building, the cross cutting issues tying all elements together in the Treaty.”

Tonga also continues its engagement at the International Seabed Authority .

“Tonga remains committed with other members of the Authority, including in its capacity as an elected member of the Council, to continue work towards the finalisation of the important draft Exploitation Regulations, ensuring an appropriate balance between the need to conserve and protect the marine environment and the sustainable use of deep sea mineral resources,” King Tupou Vi said.

“Importantly we must ensure our work is properly informed and properly concluded and in support of SDG 14.”

King Tupou VI said Tonga has already put forward its candidate for the Presidency of the Council, which will rotate to the Asia Pacific group for the 26th session in 2020.

Tonga was also privileged to host the first International Seabed Authority Regional Workshop for the Pacific in February this year.

And the Kingdom had remained engaged with the Authority through its Blue BASIL Initiative and attended related workshops for sponsoring states in Nauru and Kiribati last month.

“We look forward to continuing our collective work in the Cook Islands as well in Toga in the coming months before the 2nd United Nations Ocean Conference mid next year,” he said.

“Tonga commends the work of the Commission on the limits of the International Shelf and we are grateful for the recommendations provided t us by the Commission on our first partial submission last month.

“We look forward to its eventful consideration of our second partial submission in good time.”

He also acknowledges Italy’s ongoing partnership in strengthening Tonga’s capacity in the field of environment and the ocean and the work done by the Pacific Community (SPC), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the PEW Charitable Trust on the regional Deep Sea Minerals Treaty.

He said Tonga is also pleased to continue in its capacity as en elected Vice President of the SIDS Doc Assembly on behalf of the Pacific Islands SIDS members.

Security

In his closing remarks King Tupou Vi said that sustainable development, whether it be inter-alia through good health and well being, climate action, life below water or affordable clean energy can only be realised through the achievement and maintenance of international peace and security.

“We continue to look to the Security Council to protect the innocent from threats to international peace and security in whatever form, either in traditional threats such as armed conflict or newer threats like climate change, sea level rise o health epidemics, to ensure that no one is left behind,” he added.

His Majesty arrived in New York on Sunday for the UN Climate Summit and the 74th General Assembly.

Note: Iliesa Tora’s presence at the UN Climate Action Summit has been made possible through funding from the UN-OHRLLS/Islands Voices and the Forum Secretariat (PIFS).

 

 

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