Monday, 3 October 2011

Q and A with Ambassador Marlene Moses

From 01 January 2012, the Pacific takes over as the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) on climate change. This role has been taken up Nauru’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador Marlene Moses. She takes over from another able and strong negotiator, Ambassador Dessima Williams. Here she shares some of her initial thoughts with PACNEWS Editor and Climate Pasifika journalist, Makereta Komai.

Ambassador Marlene Moses

Q: Ambassador Moses you will take over as chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in January next year. This will be an important responsibility not just for you but for the Pacific as a whole. What are your expectations?
Ambassador Moses: Nauru takes over the chair of AOSIS from 01 January 2012. In terms of the expectations for the Pacific, this will be an opportunity for the Pacific to raise its profile in terms of climate change. Nauru is a small and modest mission in New York. It has capacity limitations, so we will be looking to our Pacific colleagues to help us in chairing AOSIS, providing us with the expertise that we need as Nauru chairs the 43-memebr group. In this regard, Nauru has placed a number of advertisements in key outlets to advertise mainly for a chief negotiator, deputy chief negotiator, science advisor and economic climate adviser. We are hoping that the Pacific will take this opportunity and come forward and support Nauru as AOSIS chair. Climate change is critical to the survival of Pacific Island Countries and we hope that Pacific Islanders will apply for these positions to be based in New York for the duration of Nauru’s term as chair.

Q: The advertisements have gone out?
Ambassador Moses: Yes they have gone out. First of all, we have written to all Pacific Islands that are members of AOSIS. We have placed ads in the Pacific Law Journal and written to SPREP, SPC and PIFS where most of our experts are based. We are also providing an opportunity for the Pacific to be directly involved in mapping and driving the climate change negotiations. This is important because of our survival and the future of our nations must be central to the climate change negotiations.

Q: Any responses so far?
Ambassador Moses: We have received some applications and we are encouraging Pacific Islanders to apply for these jobs. Applications close on October 14.

Q: Apart from your push for more Pacific Islanders to be involved in climate change negotiations, what are some other important issues for the Pacific, especially now in the lead up to Durban, there are a lot of discussions on the future of the Kyoto Protocol?
Ambassador Moses: Everything is relevant to the Pacific, especially what you just mentioned about the future of the Kyoto Protocol post 2012. Nauru’s position and the Pacific position are well embedded in the AOSIS position, in terms f temperature, of the Kyoto Protocol and the ambitious reduction targets. We are not making changes to the AOSIS position but building on what Grenada has achieved during its chairmanship. I think having this opportunity for the Pacific to be directly involved will add another level or a different perspective because the Pacific is one of the most vulnerable regions. So we bring in that urgency, we bring in that impetus that climate change negotiations cannot fail. It’s the only legal framework available to us and we need this to continue after 2012. If I can use a quotation from a civil society in South Africa at the talks yesterday, ‘we don’t want the Kyoto Protocol to die in our soil.’ And this is exactly where we are coming from. We don’t want the Protocol to die a premature death.

Q: There are some discussions of a transitional period for Kyoto Protocol after it expires in 2012. Do we accept that?
Ambassador Moses: I think we need to look at that further but right now the survival and future of our island countries are central to how we chair the AOSIS group.

Q: Ban Ki Moon was in the Pacific a few weeks ago and in Kiribati he said the island was the ‘frontline of the frontline’ states impacted by climate change. That is the situation of many Pacific Island countries, we are the frontline states.
Ambassador Moses: Absolutely. The UN Secretary General, I believe after his visit to the Pacific now totally understands and appreciates the urgency of our situation. In New York, two years ago, we ran a Security Council resolution that linked climate change to peace and security. In July this year there was a debate at the UN Security Council and my President, Marcus Stephens was there on behalf of Pacific Island countries. We managed to get the Security Council to recognise that climate change was a security threat. We are hoping that during our term as AOSIS chair, the issue will be highlighted, respecting off course that not all AOSIS member countries share the same position

Q: I remember when Nauru took up the issue, you featured prominently at the UN talking about it
Ambassador Moses: I think Nauru’s name was profiled because we were the chair of PSIDs (Pacific Small Island Developing States in New York. But I have to tell you and place on record that it wasn’t just Nauru but the coalition of 11 PSIDS represented at the United Nations in New York. All of us with our modest missions did our best because we realised that climate change needs to be featured and promoted at the UN and the world over. If we fail, it undermines all the development gains we have achieved in the past years.

Q: That’s exactly what your President said in New York recently. He called on the UN Security Council to take further action. What did he mean?
Ambassador Moses: We are asking the Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative and we are also asking the Secretary General to assess the capacity of the UN system to see f it can respond to the security implications of climate change.

Q: So you see your role as incoming chair of AOSIS as a critical moment for the Pacific to again lift its profile to another level on climate change internationally?
Ambassador Moses: We hope this is one of the things we are able to push during our chairmanship.

Q: The current chair, Ambassador Dessima Williams has done a great job during her term?
Ambassador Moses: Absolutely. It’s a supremely difficult job. We will be filling incredibly big shoes. Grenada has set the bar very high and we can only do our best to match what Grenada has achieved on behalf f 43 countries. She is a wonderful woman. Her dedication, personality and passion have reflected in the work she has done for AOSIS.

Q: As a woman?
Ambassador Moses: Even great. I can only build on her legacy. She is a wonderful negotiator. During the transition, we will draw on her wisdom and guidance as we begin to chair AOSIS.

Q: Support from the Pacific on your chairmanship?
Ambassador Moses: 120 percent! We are grateful to Pacific Island Countries, especially my Ambassadorial colleague in New York who have given me all their support. Nauru cannot let them down and will not let them down!

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