21 May 2020, Apia, Samoa – The Government of the People’s Republic of China reaffirmed its support for a resilient Pacific through its annual financial assistance presented to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) at the recently completed Pacific Climate Change Centre in Apia this morning.
The USD 200,000 assistance, which has been presented to the Secretariat annually since 1998 and was increased from USD 150,000 in 2017, is a result of the commitment of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, who stressed concern for Pacific island countries over the issue of climate change, and to support countries in improving its capabilities to address it.
The Chinese Ambassador to Samoa, His Excellency Chao Xiaoliang, officially handed over his Government’s contribution to the Director of SPREP, Mr Kosi Latu, during a brief ceremony this morning.
H.E Ambasssador Chao acknowledged that everyone the world over is currently living in difficult times as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, and that the Chinese Government is playing their part to ensure that the pandemic is brought to a halt sooner rather than later.
“With the outbreak of COVID-19, the year 2020 has been a tough year. What we are facing is the most serious global public health emergency since the end of World War II,” H.E Ambassador Chao said.
“The impact of the pandemic is both immediate and dreadful. But, as the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres puts, another “deeper emergency”, the planet’s unfolding environmental crisis, should also come to our alarm.” H.E Ambassador Chao added.
He said as the virus knows no borders, neither does climate change, and that the only cure for these global crises are global governance and coordinated efforts.
“As a firm upholder of multilateralism, China’s effort to deal with climate change is driven by its sense of responsibility, to forge a community with a shared future for mankind. With such a strong sense of responsibility, China takes concrete policy measures to combat climate change,” His Excellency revealed.
“Fulfilling our commitment to donating USD 1 million to SPREP in five years is one example. In addition, China has also achieved and exceeded in advance the goal of reducing carbon intensity by 40%-45% below the 2005 level by 2020, and will also continue to strengthen the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement,” he concluded as saying.
SPREP’s Director General, Mr Kosi Latu, highlighted during his remarks the work of the Secretariat over the past year that had been made possible through the financial assistance received from the Chinese Government in 2019.
“The generous contribution of the People’s Republic of China has made a positive impact on the work of SPREP in climate change, as well as all of our strategic priorities through the strengthening of our core, which enables us to be more responsive to the needs of our Pacific island countries and territories,” Mr Latu said.
Mr Latu revealed that the financial assistance from the Chinese Government supported the Climate Change Resilience programme’s activities on oceanography and provided support for Climate Change conferences such as the Pre-Climate Action Pacific Partnership and the Pacific Resilience Meeting held in Fiji.
The funding also assisted SPREP with the successful Green Climate Fund accreditation upgrade, which was approved in July 2019. This means that SPREP can now oversee projects of up to but less than USD 250 million.
It also supported the work of the Secretariat’s Communications and Outreach unit, which ensures that the work done by SPREP connects with its Pacific island Members, is tangible and will have follow through in Pacific island communities.
Mr Latu said, “Life has changed all over the world since COVID-19. We have seen the health and economic impacts it has had in Samoa and all over the world, and the world as we know it will never be the same again.”
“So to have this gesture of support from the People’s Republic of China is a positive signal towards helping countries in the region continue to protect their environment and continue to take action against climate change,” he added.
Mr Latu expressed his sincere gratitude to the Government of the People’s Republic of China through His Excellency Chao Xiaoliang, and acknowledged with appreciation the impact their contribution has made and will continue to make regarding China’s commitment to helping Pacific island countries address climate change and achieve sustainable development.
For more information, please contact Ms Audrey Brown-Pereira, SPREP Executive Officer, at [email protected].