While the negotiations at the Bonn Climate Change Conference are moving at their usual pace, the upcoming UNFCCC COP 23 Presidency holder, Fiji, is about to be hit by tropical cyclone Ella. ECO notices that while the cyclone season in the Pacific ended in April, this off-season tropical cyclone is gaining momentum and likely to hit and damage the same parts of the Fiji Islands that were severely devastated by cyclone Winston in 2016. Winston is the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, causing US$1.4 billion in damage in Fiji. Many Fijians are still struggling to recover and rebuild their lives, and now all their efforts might be undone. This disaster is, unfortunately, the current reality of the Pacific Island Nations €” and must be a stark reminder to all of us that we must act urgently.
ECO understands that addressing loss and damage is the responsibility of the Executive Committee of Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damage. However, we strongly feel it is equally important to create a space in the formal negotiation process (i.e. SB sessions and the COP) in order to not lose sight of these critical, politically significant topics. Issues such as climate-induced displacement/forced migration; loss and damage finance; non-economic loss and damage; and comprehensive risk management approaches are of particular importance, and the progress on these needs political oversight. ECO hopes that the upcoming COP Presidency, representing the Pacific Island Nations which are particularly vulnerable, will consider it and put a spotlight on the issue at COP23.
Lastly, ECO expresses its solidarity with the people of Peru, Colombia, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and other vulnerable developing countries which have experienced climate-related disasters this year. ECO also hopes that cyclone Ella will not have devastating impacts on the people and the island of Fiji.