Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cook Islands, a valuable member in the world negotiations against climate change

Members of the Cook Islands delegation

27 November, Cancun, Mexico - The Cook Islands are committed to the climate change cause.  The nation of 15 small islands is a valuable member of the Pacific wide team that works as one in the fight for an agreement crucial to our survival. As time passes and science gives weight to the impacts of climate change - the need for an agreement grows stronger each day.

Over the next two weeks in Cancun, Mexico the world comes together, yet again, at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (COP16).

While expectations are being downplayed at this meeting, the Cook Islands are still working towards an agreement, after all the nation is amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change but is one of the nations that contributes least to this global problem.

"I think they are trying to downplay the ambitions of this meeting, but for the Cook Islands it's important that we keep the pressure on to try and come to some sort of agreement. I mean, we can’t just keep deferring the hard decisions, we've got to make a decision and set a deadline for this process," said Myra Patai the  Director, International Organizations & Treaties, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration - the head of the Cook Islands delegation.

The Cook Islands have been actively engaged in the climate change negotiations which have been held more regularly after the formation of the ‘Bali Roadmap’ at the 13th Conference of the Parties two years ago. They have in their team experienced local negotiators who are tasked with leading different working groups for the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) in addressing the range of agenda items.

“For the Cook Islands we have two key issues; to address problems of rising Greenhouse gas emissions and impacts on us and we’re hoping to put in place an agreement that will capture those countries that aren’t part of the climate change agreement process. We’d also like to see a second commitment period for parties under the Kyoto protocol is established.”

Here at the climate change meetings, it is often commented upon by fellow Pacific delegates that the Cook Islands country team is largely made up of the female gender, however Patai says the strength of their team is more that it reflects the diverse interests from the island nation as the country battles climate change together. In all there are eight delegates in the Cook Islands official team who stem from different government ministries, as well as nongovernmental organisations.

“I think this really reflects what we do back home we have set up a climate change country team which comprises of almost all of government ministries as well as traditional leaders, business people and NGO’s. I think Government understands that to address climate change effectively requires a comprehensive response, that government cannot tackle climate change on its own.”

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