Councilor, Melbourne, Australia,
ICLEI Global Executive Committee Member
R20 Founding Chair
Bonn Fiji Commitment
Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji and COP23 President, underscored subnational power: “We can draw from the power and enthusiasm of local and regional leaders in the mission to tackle climate change. So many of you have already demonstrated how to make decisions and implement them.”
“The beginnings of a text are emerging. There is general agreement on the need for greater ambition. And certainly the mood at COP is a lot more positive than some might have expected given the challenges to the multilateral consensus on decisive action of which you are all aware.
“I certainly believe there is a growing appreciation that the only way for every nation to put itself first is to join hands with every other nation and tackle this problem head on.
“And as I keep saying, the door is always open to those who are holding back to join us on our mission and move forward together.
“Friends, Fiji certainly thinks we have brought something to these negotiations that is both distinctive and effective. Many delegations are now referring to the “Bula Spirit” and the “Talanoa Dialogue” – two concepts we brought with us to Bonn that seem to resonate widely and have captured the imaginations of even the most cynical delegates.
“The Bula Spirit is simply a Fijian way of bringing our own tradition of friendliness and joy to what is a pretty sober process – working together as nations and people to tackle the most serious challenge of our age.
“Talanoa – a Pacific word for story telling – has a more substantive purpose. It is to bring the Pacific tradition of decision-making based on respect and understanding to a negotiating process that has often lacked both.
“The ‘I win, you lose’ style of negotiation is not what we need at COP. Talanoa is about arriving at outcomes that are for the common good. It is not about merely being nice to each other. Free and frank exchanges are encouraged. But we want those exchanges to take place in an atmosphere of respectful cooperation, devoid of finger pointing, that makes it easier to reach solutions in the interests of us all.
“The other thing that Fiji has brought to COP and I think has been appreciated has been our idea of building a Grand Coalition to move this process forward. Right from the start, we realised that national governments alone cannot solve this problem. And so we have been helping to bring governments at every level into the process, together with civil society, the private sector, faith- based organisations and ordinary men and woman throughout the world.
“As I keep saying, we are all in the same canoe when it comes to climate change. We all have something to offer. And as an example of the power of non- state players, I have had a series of encounters here in Bonn with those representing America’s Pledge and the Under2 Coalition – Governor Jerry Brown and a number of other governors, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a host of other mayors, former US Vice President Al Gore and the Terminator himself – former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger also provided rousing support for the WHO’s work in the area of climate change and health. Mr Schwarzenegger commended the WHO for its work on cleaner air, saying, “I’m proud that the World Health Organisation is leading the way by putting the spotlight on the disastrous health impacts of pollution. It’s time that we start talking about what matters. Here’s what matters: that 25 000 people are dying every day because of pollution.”