Remarks by Mr. Kandhi A. Elieisar
(Assistant Secretary of Foreign Affairs)
19th Meeting of Parties of the Montreal Protocol
Check Against Delivery
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates and Observers, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Mr. President, I begin my short remarks by congratulating you on your important appointment as Chair of the Nineteenth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, and to assure you of my delegation's support and cooperation in the course of our meeting. I would also like to express warm greetings to all and to take this opportunity to thank our host, the esteemed Government of Canada, for the generous hospitalities afforded to my small delegation since our arrival in beautiful Montreal. May I also acknowledge the unfailing assistance that we have been receiving from the hardworking staff of the Ozone Secretariat which, along with the diligent support of the host government, has contributed to a most fitting venue and excellent meeting arrangements.
Mr. President, the Federated States of Micronesia, takes great pleasure in joining the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, and indeed we have much to celebrate for having achieved substantial progress in overcoming one of the greatest environmental threats facing humankind, namely, the dangerous erosion of the earth's ozone layer due to human emissions of ozone-depleting substances. We can rightly take this occasion to honor those parties who had the wisdom and foresight to join in taking bold action to implement the Protocol, despite uncertainties at the time about science and the costs involved. We also honor the Montreal Protocol for the additional work it has done to mitigate climate change.
While this 20th anniversary is to be considered a celebration of remarkable outcomes achieved in twenty years of cooperative environmental action, we must recognize that the Montreal Protocol is still a work in progress and that there is much yet to be done, both to protect the ozone layer and to help alleviate climate change.
It is in this light, Mr. President, that the Federated States of Micronesia takes pleasure in joining other parties to submit a proposed adjustment aimed at strengthening the Protocol, emphasizing the twin objectives of protecting ozone depletion and reducing climate change. While these are not the only perceived benefits and that we would very much welcome support for our proposal, we are also very much open to forge a positive way forward to ensure that this excellent opportunity provided to us on this anniversary day of the Protocol is not lost.
It is no exaggeration, Mr. President, to say that if at this meeting a consensus can be reached on these proposals, the Montreal Protocol could become the most effective multilateral agreement in combating climate change that has been implemented to date, over and above its mainstream accomplishment of saving the ozone layer. Hence, it is of critical importance that we make adequate provision for financial assistance to developing countries through the Protocol's Multilateral Fund. And we emphasize that climate benefits of an accelerated HCFC phase-out depend on replacing HCFCs with climate-friendly substitutes and alternatives and more energy efficient technologies. These can be brought on stream in a timely fashion in the developing world, as well as by developed nations, to ensure the maximum gains for ozone and climate protection.
In this connection, Mr. President, there are other special concerns of Pacific island states such as those raised by the distinguished Madam Minister from Fiji on proper disposal of wastes and information sharing or networking, and my delegation will be remiss not to add our voice in seeking assistance to ensure effective management of wastes in our fragile and vulnerable islands.
Indeed, the Federated States of Micronesia and other small island developing states like Fiji, are among the world's most vulnerable and most endangered by the threat of global warming. In saying this, Mr. President, I am reminded of the Chinese character for 'Crisis' which is made up of two other characters: 'Danger' and 'Opportunity'. At no other time in the history of the human race, science has shown to us the great damage that we have inflicted on our home and the support systems that make ours and other lives possible.
To some - especially those whose countries are landlocked and are in more geographically secure locations -- the dangers may be almost theoretical. To them, this meeting and the items in the agenda may be a matter of negotiating positions and percentages, of dates and dollars. To us who live in tiny island countries and on the coast, the dangers are all too real and are a matter of our very survival. The sea is now encroaching in our taro patches and vegetable gardens, so much so that we wonder:
Who among us will accept us when -- not if, but when -- our land is totally submerged by the sea and we can no longer drink our water. Who among us will give us land if the soils from whence our food comes will no longer give life. Who among us will give us a job and feed our families and restore our way of lives and cultures when we shall become ecological refugees. Who among us who now quibble with numbers, dollars and percentages, will give us that home.
Perhaps rarely in the history of humankind has a few people been entrusted with so great a responsibility to make a big difference in so short a period of time. That is the responsibility that we now hold in our hands. There may be a handful of us here, but as one of the great social scientists of the 20th century once said; "Never doubt for a single moment that a handful of thoughtful and committed men and women can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever did."
Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen' we are that handful of committed men and women. We know the dangers and risks well enough; I respectfully plead that we seize the opportunity NOW.