On 4 December 2014, H.E. Mr. Isikeli Mataitoga, Ambassador of Fiji to Japan, delivered a lecture entitled “Climate Change and its Impact on Fiji” at the United Nations University (UNU) Headquarters in Tokyo. His lecture was part of UNU’s Ambassador Lecture Series, a forum that provides an opportunity for UNU students, fellows and interns to directly engage with government officials on political, economic, and social issues.
Ambassador Mataitoga’s lecture addressed the adverse effects and risks of climate change and rising sea level facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and explored how the Fijian government is addressing the problems at the domestic and international level.
The impacts of climate change and sea level rise present significant risks to the sustainable development of SIDS, even threatening the very existence of some small islands. Like many SIDS, Fiji’s capacity to respond to climate change is often constrained by its limited economic, human and technological resources. In the last five years, Fiji has suffered from unseasonal heavy flooding almost yearly, which has destroyed not only infrastructure like roads and bridges, but has also resulted in increased food insecurity, higher incidence of waterborne diseases and greater costs to the annual health budget.
Securing funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures is a great challenge to many SIDS. The Ambassador elaborated on cooperation between Fiji and other SIDS in the South Pacific, such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, in fighting climate change. “South-South cooperation is the key to solving the problem of climate change,” said the Ambassador, stressing the need for more cooperation and partnerships between developing countries.
The lecture concluded with the Ambassador engaging with the audience in a lively question-and-answer session on issues such as the risks of increased prevalence of cyclones and the importance of indigenous knowledge in climate change resilience.