FIJI: Ardern commits climate money for Pacific but quiet on banning deep-sea mining

By Whatitiri Te Wake

The Pacific Island Forum got underway today with many of the heads of states as delegates arriving in Suva today. The major talking point was climate change.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a funding package to help with the conservation of Pacific crop seeds impacted by climate change.

“$10 million will be allocated to the Fiji-based Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT), which since 1998 has been conserving the region's collections of 17 crops including yam, coconut and 70 percent of the world’s taro varieties.”

“Climate change is a major threat to Pacific agriculture, putting our region's food security at risk. This investment will increase the Pacific’s resilience by ensuring our region's seeds and plant materials are preserved and protected for future generations,” she said.

PM Ardern tries to tackle climate change for the Pacific.

But questions remain on New Zealand's overall effort to help climate efforts across the Pacific.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa Packer met some of the Pacific leaders in Portugal at the United Nations Oceans Conference recently, where there was a collective aim to help build an international coalition against deep-sea mining.

Although Ardern held back from throwing her support to the newly formed Deep Sea Alliance, and its call for a moratorium on deep-sea mining in the region, she said today she shared common ground in the concerns.

“We are concerned with activity into this space but don’t have the legal framework to protect the environment and to manage environmental outcomes,” she said.

“Globally, there are a lot of discussions about the realities of pollution of the ocean and protection of the ocean and fisheries industries, which is the last of our economic independence,” she said.

The Green Party went the extra mile, last week demanding that the government align itself with Pacific leadership calling for an immediate moratorium on deep-sea mining. Greens co-leader Marama Davidson said: "We're bound by our collective whakapapa to the region".

“As Māori, as Māori activists, as Māori politicians, the real accountability that we should be putting on the New Zealand government is to reduce our emissions and also support the Pacific leadership and Pacific action to take care of their own whenua and whakapapa.”