Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Lord Goldsmith Statement at SPC's 12th Conference
Though I am unable to join you in person, I am delighted that the UK is able to resume our membership of the Pacific Community.
We’ve been working on this since 2018 and we are grateful for your patience.
Of course, Pitcairn has remained a member, and the UK has continued to work with SPC through projects such as the Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project, and the Regional Pacific NDC Hub.
But I am thrilled that we can now work even more closely together on so many shared priorities – from promoting human rights and responsibilities, to prosperity.
I know, from many meetings that I’ve had with you, how hard the pandemic has hit SIDS in particular including even those Islands that have managed to mostly remain free of the virus.
So, the sooner we bring this to an end, the more lives we can save, the more livelihoods we can protect – and the more we can focus on our even greater challenges ahead. Chief among them, as you know all too well, is climate change.
It’s a global threat, but for small island states which contributed so little to the problem, it is an existential threat.
At COP26 in Glasgow, your voices were heard loud and clear, despite so many COVID-related logistical challenges. And when you called for a step change in global action your message was delivered with huge moral authority.
We also heard from the next generation, …like the brilliant Brianna Fruean who brought Samoa to Glasgow at the World Leaders’ Summit – and spoke passionately about our shared global responsibility to ensure that the most vulnerable communities, are not only protected, but that they are able to benefit from turning things around as well.
It was Pacific voices that hammered home the need to keep within 1.5 degrees of warming, and help communities adapt to become more resilient.
You helped secure commitments for urgent action on every front
…including the Paris rulebook
…and finance, and just as importantly, access to that finance.
Alongside new funding and programming – I’m delighted that the UK will be investing £100m to respond to recommendations from the Taskforce on Access to Climate Finance that we co-chair alongside Fiji.
It was the leadership of big-ocean, big-nature countries, including many of you, that meant that the UK presidency could make – and win – the arguments in favour of protecting and restoring nature as one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to tackle climate change, and so many other challenges that we face as well.
We brought nature from the margins of the margins into the heart of our response to climate change for the first time.
As well as over 140 countries representing over 90% of the world’s forests coming together to commit to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030
…the UK-led campaign to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030 is now backed by 100 countries and counting.
Many of you are part of that, and I urge anyone who isn’t please to join us.
Alongside billions of dollars of direct public, and philanthropic, and private investment to help and restore nature.
… we saw multilateral development banks, and businesses, and big financial institutions in command of trillions of dollars, committing publicly to align their entire portfolios not only with Paris but with the recovery of nature as well.
And that is critically important – because it is only by working together to shift those immense incentives away from destruction in favour of sustainability, resilience, and renewal, that we can deliver meaningful change.
…and those market signals, incidentally, have proven irresistible even to the more reluctant countries who simply could not ignore them.
I recognise, of course, that the gap between where we are and where we need to be by the end of this decade remains vast – and promises are only valuable in so far as they are honoured.
But combined, I do believe the commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow go far beyond anything we have seen before – and I think they can be the turning point we urgently need for our shared future.
So in the weeks, months, and years ahead, the UK will do absolutely everything we can to maintain momentum, to inject real accountability, and to ramp-up those commitments.
And I have no doubt that the UK and the Pacific will continue to be at forefront of making that happen – and that the work we do together through SPC will help us ensure that your powerful call to action continues to be heard all around the world.
So thank you for inviting me to speak to you today – and I wish you all the best for the rest of this important conference, and I hope to see you in the Pacific very soon.