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Fiji and New York have a lot in common, both having faced the brunt of devastating weather Hurricane Sandy in 2012 in New York and monster Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji.
This commonness and the friendship between the two was the key when Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama officiated the World Oceans Festival on Governors Island in New York yesterday.
Where the Donald Trump administration has pulled out of the Paris Agreement, cities in the USA have pulled up to do their bit.
And, the World Oceans Festival was a clear indication of this.
Speaking at the event, where Mr Bainimarama, the incoming COP23 President and the co-host of the weeklong United Nations Ocean Conference, also talked about his personal relationship with Governors Island, having gone there in 1981 on a training course with the US Coastguard.
“We have a great deal in common as people who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change – not only rising sea levels but extreme weather events that have cost the lives of our loved ones, along with a great deal of economic pain.
“You had Hurricane Sandy in 2012. We had Cyclone Winston last year. And it has bound us together as a people – Fijians and New Yorkers – in our determination to work with the rest of the world to tackle the threat of climate change.
“As incoming President of COP23 and also cohost of the UN Ocean Conference this week, I especially want to thank the Mayor and people of New York for standing shoulder to shoulder with us on this issue.
“Because it affects every person on earth, just as the health of our oceans and seas is critical to every human being and is why we are all gathered here today.”
A number of awards were also presented to groups and individuals who have been working to safeguard our Ocean, and the main award- the Champion of Change- was presented by Mr Bainimarama to Wallace J. Nichols
Mr Bainimarama said: “It is my honour to be here and to represent the island nation of Fiji where the ocean is directly connected to every aspect of our life. I am pleased to present this award to someone who understands – as we islanders do – the deeper connection the sea.
“He is a scientist, movement maker, marine biologist, explorer and water advocate. He is author of bestselling Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected and Better at What You Do.
“He also likes turtles (a lot). He is on a quest to build a stronger, more diverse blue movement as he changes the conversations for good.”
Edited by Maraia Vula
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