Palau’s Olai Uludong says the Climate Week focus and Summit this year at the 2019 United Nations General Assembly is adding to an already sizeable list of global agenda items for Pacific officials. She says Pacific missions in New York are already hard at work sorting where their leaders will be, who they will meet with, and key messages representing their national and regional positions on the agenda items. The seasoned diplomat and high level climate change negotiator says the focus on securing resource partnerships are a key part of the workload for her President Tommy Remengesau during Climate Week in the big apple. “This is where we have to rise above our own vulnerabilities to ensure the Climate Summit is a race that we can win,” she says.
At the United Nations climate change conference in Paris in 2015, Palau had committed to hit a 45 percent renewable energy target by 2025. “The problem we are facing now is ‘how’– that’s the challenge facing all the leaders.,” says Uludong, “We have all these targets but how do we get there? What is needed to achieve the goals we’ve set, and who can we partner with? ” With UN Secretary General Guterres visiting the Pacific ahead of the Kainaki II Declaration from Tuvalu’s Forum Leaders meeting, “we have to make sure we come to New York prepared”. “They have to cover Financing for Development, universal coverage, the SAMOA pathway, which is our Pacific blueprint– on top of climate change and oceans, so it’s a full-packed agenda and comes back to being very small countries coming to a very packed week. “Once they lock in resource people for delegations and hustle for the massive costs of funding travel expenses to New York, the work of making the biggest return for that investment begins. Partnerships for climate action are a likely focus for many Pacific delegations, and for many, are the whole point of the United Nations meeting, says Uludong.” For the UN, the General Assembly is the only week in the year when you have all the leaders in the world in one room. Leaders have to focus, and its equally a challenge for missions to plan for a focused week so that our leaders don’t get overwhelmed,” she says.
“You imagine a leader that dealing with domestic and regional issues, all of a sudden having to come and transform and and lead delegations in New York– they have to speak a different language.”