In COP23, Environment and Climate Change, Infrastructure and Transportation, News

The Honourable Fijian Attorney General, Minister for Economy and Minister responsible for climate change, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum,
The Vice President of the European Investment Bank, Ambroise Fayolle,
Chair, Water Authority of Fiji, PL Munasinghe,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula vinaka, guten tag and a very good afternoon to you all.

One of the reasons I was keen to accept the responsibility of the COP Presidency was the opportunity to look after the interests of my own people. Successful climate negotiations clearly benefit all Fijians and so does the project that brings us together today – a 405-million US dollar investment to improve the water and waste water infrastructure of Fiji’s capital city, Suva.

The European Investment Bank is contributing up to 75 million US Dollars to this project, alongside our other partners – the Asian Development Bank and the Green Climate Fund. With further input from the Fijian Government, we are working together to deliver a real benefit to more than 220,000 people in the greater Suva area, as well as providing a model to replicate this type of arrangement elsewhere in the world.

On this occasion, I want to pay special tribute to the European Investment Bank, which has over many years brought climate change into its operating and lending decisions. I thank the EIB for its foresight and for recognising the need to deploy substantial amounts of capital to reduce the risk of climate change, in both mitigation and adaptation.

Friends, any investment in modern infrastructure must acknowledge the reality of climate change, otherwise investors’ money will be put at risk. We have no choice but to make infrastructure more resilient. And at the same time, we are being given the opportunity to either upgrade or develop new and better energy, water and transportation systems.

In Suva’s case, aging infrastructure stretching back to colonial times collapsed under the weight of a growing urban population, heavy rains and inadequate waste water management. We realised just how vulnerable our infrastructure was to climate change in the form of extreme weather events and sea level rise. And fortunately, we were able to find partners to provide us with a solution and the means to better serve the 30 per cent of our population who live in the greater Suva corridor.

Friends, financial institutions such as those in our wonderful partnership understand what climate change means for a country like Fiji. And we want to encourage the financial community as a whole – public and private, multilateral and local – to commit the trillions of dollars that will be needed to build infrastructure fit for purpose in a warming world.

In Suva’s case, public health, the environment and climate change all come together in this project. When it is finished, the people of our capital and its surrounding areas will be healthier, safer and better protected from the more severe consequences that we know are coming.

We’re delighted to launch the European component of this investment partnership here in Bonn during COP. Thank you to everyone who has been involved. And on behalf of the citizens of the greater Suva area and every Fijian, Vinaka Vakalevu.


[Information sourced from here]
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