In a statement, the UN chief said climate change is now an existential threat to the Pacific countries. He called on all decision-makers around the world to show ‘enlightened self-interest’ because it is not only the Pacific that is at stake, it is the whole planet. He stressed that to save the Pacific is to save the whole planet.
During his visit, Guterres met with Tallis Obed Moses, President of Vanuatu. The two discussed the effects of climate change on the small island State and efforts being made to increase its resilience.
Guterres also met with Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas. In a joint press conference with the Prime Minister, the UN chief reiterated his climate action plan which revolves around three key pillars; shifting taxation from salaries to taxation of carbon; stopping the subsidization fossil fuels; and to stop building new coal plants by 2020.
Guterres stressed that the Pacific islands are on the “frontline of the devastating impacts of climate change, but the Pacific has not contributed to climate change.” He highlighted the large investments made by Pacific countries in renewable energies and “other forms of mitigation that should be followed and copied by some of the most developed countries in the world.”
The UN chief said, “Vanuatu is a country that is extremely prone to natural disasters; volcanos, to earthquakes, to the consequences of climate change. But Vanuatu has adopted a very effective policy on resilience and adaptation that I believe is also an example to be followed and has an oceans policy that is absolutely exemplary.”
Guterres also attended a drone project demonstration by UNICEF. The drones are being used to deliver vaccines to rural areas and have so far benefited more than 1,100 children under five years old and 100 pregnant women.
The Secretary-General also visited UN Women’s Port Vila Market House “Markets for Change.” The Markets for Change (M4C) project is a multi-country initiative that aims to ensure marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Photo Twitter Caption: UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres in Port Vila, Vanuatu