Thank you very much Minister Vuniwaqa for your kind remarks.
Prime Minister Bainimarama, Mrs Bainimarama, Your Excellency the President of Fiji and the First Lady, Distinguished Heads of Delegation, Excellencies, Guests.
Bula vinaka and thank you so much for joining us here this morning.
It is a great pleasure to host this breakfast with Fiji this morning.
Prime Minister, can I thank you for your remarks. I first heard you speak with great passion about gender issues at the World Humanitarian Summit and I can see that passion continues and that you are certainly demonstrating words with actions through your government’s initiatives.
The successful implementation of the historic Paris Agreement depends upon effectively engaging women and girls.
Women, as agents of change, are critical to pursuing sustainable development and the transition to a low emissions climate resilient world.
We know that women and girls are disproportionally impacted by climate change, particularly in developing countries.
Women make up half of the world’s population: they are not a minority group.
Yet, based on current trends women will not be equally represented in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change until 2040, in parliaments until 2065, and will not make up half of the world’s leaders until 2134.
And that assumes an upward trend.
Removing barriers to women’s leadership is a priority for us in Australia.
Under the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, we have committed to lifting the status of women in the region and empowering them to be active participants in economic, political and social life.
Australia’s flagship gender equality program in the region, Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development commits $320 million over 10 years in support of those aims.
We also have as the centrepiece of our aid program the commitment that at least 80% of development investments will effectively address gender issues in their implementation regardless of their objectives. And in 2016 we were very pleased that we achieved 78%.
We have made significant inroads on gender equality and women’s leadership at the UNFCCC, but there is still a way to go.
In 2015, women’s participation from Asia Pacific countries was approximately 29%.
Participation goes beyond considering if women are represented numerically.
It is about the extent to which they are able to be actively involved and influence decision-making processes through their participation.
The Gender Action Plan, which will advance gender-responsive climate policy is a critical step in the process.
And we are pleased that Parties are set to finalise the Plan at COP23.
Australia is committed to increasing the influence of women in driving solutions to climate change, including to strengthening their participation in UNFCCC processes.
Since 2015, Australia has supported four climate negotiation training workshops for female delegates from Pacific Countries and one in South-East Asia.
The program now has over a hundred alumni who have gone on to represent their countries in regional and international fora.
To strengthen women’s voice at the first Pacific COP, Australia will support 14 participants from the training to go to Bonn, and I am really pleased that some of them are here this morning.
Several past participants are also present at the breakfast here, from Kiribas, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Cook Islands, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Fiji’s COP23 team.
I welcome all of the alumni and we look forward to seeing you behind your country’s flag.
I am sure you will all make fantastic senior negotiators in coming years and we look forward to seeing you as potentially, future heads of delegations.
Distinguished guests, today I am pleased to announce an ongoing commitment of $1.5 million over four years to support further meaningful participation of Pacific women in climate-related decision making.
This program will harness the talents of the next generation of climate leaders from the region.
Before concluding I want to acknowledge particularly the work and commitment of Pacific women leaders, some of whom are here at this Pre-COP.
I have come to know them quite well in my role as Minister for International Development and the Pacific. Can I particularly acknowledge the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa Fiame Mata'afa, the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula Bennett, and Dame Meg Taylor, the Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum.
Thank you for all that you do in your roles, but more so as providing effective leadership and role models for other women in the Pacific.
Can I conclude by thanking you all for coming this morning.
May you all continue to be advocates for women’s voices and an inclusive response to climate change internationally and at home.
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