Well thank you very, very much. Can I start by acknowledging my Ministerial colleagues, Finance Minister of Samoa, Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga, GCF board members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to be with you here at the opening of the 15th meeting of the Green Climate Fund board.

Before I start my formal remarks, can I congratulate Samoa.

We are here in Samoa at a very important time, after the very successful win over the weekend of the world heavyweight title.

I did meet, Minister, your colleague the Education Minister as he danced off the Air New Zealand flight yesterday evening and I am sure that all of Samoa will be celebrating and especially the village of Faleolo which is here on Upolu where I understand his mother Sala comes from, so I am sure there will be lots of celebrations.

On a more formal note, Australia is very proud of the progress we have achieved together as co-chair of the Fund this year, along with South Africa.

In just twelve months, we have seen the portfolio of Green Climate Fund projects grow from eight projects worth $168 million to 27 projects worth a staggering $1.2 billion.

Can I commend you for this remarkable progress.

Australia recognises the need for global cooperation on climate change and we reaffirmed our commitment to global action on climate change just last month, joining 100 other countries in ratifying the Paris Agreement.

We look forward to fully implementing our obligations and commitments under the agreement.

We have beaten our first Kyoto target by 128 million tonnes and we are on track to beat our 2020 target.

Ratification of the Agreement confirms Australia’s ambitious and responsible target to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

We are on board and on target.

This target is comparable with other advanced economies and will help halve our per capita emissions, making it one of the highest targets in the G20 on that basis.

Ratifying and implementing this Agreement is in the national interest and in the global interest.

The Climate Fund is the world’s largest fund dedicated to helping developing countries address climate change and will play a vital role in supporting the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

So it is good to see so many esteemed people here today committed to working with the Fund to make the Paris Agreement’s ambition a reality, a year, I understand, to the day.

It is also important today that we meet in the Pacific region, for the first time. The fact is no region has a greater stake in effective action on climate change.

This is part of the reason why Samoa, along with five other Pacific Island nations, were the first to ratify the Paris Agreement.

Changing climatic conditions present a direct threat to livelihoods in the Pacific.

That is why throughout the Pacific region, as here in Samoa, the anticipation of holidays and time with family that mark the end of another year are tempered by the potential for destructive cyclones.

The people of Samoa know this too well.

As Cyclone Evan tore over this island, where we meet today, in 2012, it left a trail of devastation in its wake.

We saw this this first hand this morning, as we visited the various stages of the river system, where it cost eleven lives. In fact, I talked to one of the ladies there this morning at one of our stops and I asked her whether they lost lives in the village and she said, “we did and we still have not found one little boy”.

Which was really very sad at that village, but they live in hope that they do find him.

And of course the hotel where the meeting is being held itself was devastated.

From Australia’s perspective we are proud to support Samoa’s recovery from this humanitarian disaster.

It is a similar support that Australia has offered for many years to our Pacific friends – in Vanuatu with Cyclone Pam, in Tonga with Cyclone Ian and in Fiji with Cyclone Winston.

We have been proud to commit funds to adaptation initiatives to ‘build back better’, to ensure the resilience of Pacific infrastructure matches the renowned resilience of the Pacific people.

The Green Climate Fund is also playing a crucial role in supporting resilience.

Two projects in the Pacific, with a total value of $67 million, will support both a wastewater management project in Fiji to ensure public health and access to services is maintained in the context of severe weather and a coastal adaptation project in Tuvalu that will help coastal communities respond to warming oceans and rising sea levels.

Australia of course has a special commitment to its Pacific Island neighbours.

This morning, I joined Green Climate Fund Board members on a visit to the Leone bridge construction project, an arterial bridge destroyed by Cyclone Evan.

It is now being rebuilt with Australian funds using a single span construction to ensure resilience to future weather events.

Indeed, I was there last week with our Foreign Minister announcing that we would provide funding for Samoa for a stock of emergency “Bailey” bridges.

Australia’s Prime Minister also recently announced a $300 million package of new Australian support to manage climate change and improve resilience in the Pacific over the next four years.

The package includes $225 million for ‘climate smart’ investments in country and regional programs and $75 million in disaster risk management.

I am also pleased to announce today a contribution of $1 million for the PacSAFE Project, an innovative approach to disaster impact mapping.

We are proud to be customising this program for the Pacific, to build disaster and climate change resilience and it will be piloted in Tonga.

The PacSAFE project will be delivered by Geoscience Australia in partnership with the Pacific community.

It will provide planners and responders with the ability to visualise likely disaster impacts and to quantify the potential damage.

As it is important for planners to evaluate the scale of disasters, so too is it important for all people to see the impact of adverse climatic events.

So, I would invite you to explore the “Warm Waters” photo exhibition which captures the vulnerability of the Pacific, but also the opportunities for climatic investments to respond to these impacts.

The photographer, Vlad Sokhin, who flew all the way from Cambodia to get here today, will be pleased to discuss his collection with you this evening.

Can I wish you all the very, very best in your important work here in Samoa and thank you for your kind attention.

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