Giff Johnson of the Marshall Islands Journal says the Marshall Islands government has been “pumping up the call for climate action” in the months leading up to this year’s Forum in the Marshallese capital Majuro.
Report – By Daniel Drageset
Climate change will be a major issue facing about 50 members of the media gathering this week for the 44th Pacific Islands Forumhosted in the Marshall Islands capital Majuro.
“Having the Pacific Islands Forum is a great way to promote [the country], and according to the list of media people coming in there are over 50 visiting media, TV, radio, print media coming in,” said Giff Johnson, editor of The Marshall Islands Journal.
Climate change will be the most important issue on the Forum’s agenda, according to Johnson.
“It’s [the Marshall Islands governmen] been pushing the key countries like Australia, New Zealand and the US to get on board with a very strong climate action declaration, which they hope will be a stand-alone document coming out of the Forum.”
The editor said a declaration from this year’s Pacific Islands Forum in Majuro can be presented at the UN later this month, and “feed into major international conferences and forums related to climate change”.
Johnson also said the Forum would address the UN Millennium Development Goals, a review of the Pacific Plan, and the suspension of Fiji from the Forum.
Marshalling the Pacific Response to the Climate Challenge has been named as the theme of this year’s Forum.
The 2013 Pacific Islands Forum will be the biggest event the Marshall Islands has ever hosted.
The only other time the Marshall Islands hosted the Pacific Islands Forum was in 1996, but this time it would be bigger, Foreign Affairs Secretary Doreen deBrum told Islands Business.
She said 500 delegates would take part in the Pacific Islands Forum this week. Leaders from 13 of the 16 Pacific Islands Forum member countries would be present at the Forum, with attendees also from the European Union, China, Japan, the United States, as well as the top United Nations climate change envoy.
“It’s huge, and it’s a big challenge in everything, you know, in hotels, accommodations, vehicles, all those sort of logistic things, but many countries have come to the table to help out donating vehicles, donating money, just generally supporting in a bunch of ways,” Johnson said.
The editor said that the Marshall Islands may lack top international accommodation, but that the hospitality would be top notch.
The opening ceremony tomorrow, when the leaders would be transported over a lagoon in Marshallese outrigger canoes would be a highlight of the Forum, Johnson said.
“One of the organisers of this canoe flotilla commented to me the other day, he says: ‘Well, these leaders can go anywhere they want in the world, to go swimming or snorkelling, but there’s only one place that they can go and ride on a Marshallese outrigger canoe, and that’s right here.’”
The Pacific Islands Forum takes place on September 3-6.
Daniel Drageset is the Pacific Scoop internship editor.