Remarks by Mr. Dirk Wagener UNDP Resident Representative at the occasion of the 2nd National Climate Change Summit 2022 (given by Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Edward Vrkic)

September 12, 2022

September 12, 2022

Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Edward Vrkic speaking on behalf of the Resident Representative, Mr. Dirk Wagener

Seru Kepa | UNDP Papua New Guinea

Approx. 790 words.

Reading time: 8 to 10 minutes.


  • Hon. James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.
  • Hon. Simo Kilepa, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Climate Change.
  • William Lakain, Acting Managing Director Climate Change and Development Authority.
  • His Excellency Jon Philp, Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea Government of Australia.
  • Bir C. Mandal, Head of Office, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • Ratu Sakiusa R. Tuisolia, Country Representative Global Green Growth Institute.
  • Government Counterparts.
  • Excellencies.
  • Development Partners.
  • Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen.

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It is a privilege to be speaking today. As many of you will recall, the inaugural climate summit delivered in 2021 set a new bench mark. It, for the first time, framed climate change as an emergency and what that meant for Papua New Guinea and its people.

The inaugural Summit set the tone for Pacific Island Forum Leaders, who themselves highlighted the climate emergency we all face in their 2021 Meeting Communiqué. In this Communiqué, they underlined the climate emergency that ‘threatens the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the region’s people and ecosystems,’ as evidenced by ‘the latest science and the daily lived realities in Pacific communities.’

The inaugural 2021 Climate Summit was supported by a wide range of development partners, dignitaries, Governors, Ministers and the private sector. Streamed globally, it was seen by thousands of people. It sent a message to the world that Papua New Guinea was taking climate action. I am glad to see some of these faces here again today.

It reminds us all, that climate action is everyone’s business. UNDP was proud to co-host that first Summit with CCDA and we are proud today to support this second Climate Summit. You’ll recall that 2021’s inaugural Summit delivered a Call to Action. It is worth reflecting on this Call to Action. It reaffirmed Papua New Guinea’s commitment to the United Nations 2015 Paris Agreement. It recognised the need to value the direct and indirect benefits and services of the natural environment. It recalled the Government’s commitment to its enhanced

Nationally Determined Contributions, proudly delivered with UNDP support, and strongly encouraged Government to uphold its commitments to them. It called on all development partners and the private sector to orientate their investments in sustainable, climate-friendly actions and solutions. And, it stressed the urgency of actions required, highlighting the overwhelming scientific evidence proving the catastrophic consequences of climate inaction using the real-life situation in Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARoB) as a case.

This Call to Action resonate loudly. It highlights a continuing and intensifying planetary emergency. We are depleting our natural resources at an unsustainable rate.

Our current models of economic development are simply not sustainable.

By 2030, we can expect the size of the ‘global middle class’ will increase from today’s 3.5 billion to 5.6 billion.
Current economic models suppose continuing access to natural resources.

These models however struggle with questions of climate impact, sustainability and equity.

They turn a blind eye to pollution, waste and environmental degradation.

2021 marked some unenviable records for humanity. Last year, carbon emissions, ocean temperatures and sea level
rise had reached the highest levels ever recorded. What will this mean for the planet?

Well, the science on this is clear. We are in the middle of the sixth great extinction.

Humans are accelerating changes at a speed to the very DNA of planetary systems never seen before.

Deforestation is rampant. Growingly erratic weather patterns are displacing millions, who are fleeing drought and flooding in both developed and developing countries.

Lest we forget what is currently happening in Pakistan. Climate variations are not a new phenomenon.

Our geological records confirm this. But the way we currently live and the economic models we aspire to, have destroyed natural mitigation systems. Simply, our unsustainable growth and development have led to the triple planetary crisis: climate emergency, pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

We must cut Green House Gas emissions by 45% by 2030 to reach net-zero by 2050.

If we fail, we face a climate catastrophe with a minimum forecast average 3-degree Celsius temperature increase on
pre-industrial levels.

For Papua New Guinea, this means thousands of people displaced …

… subsistence food systems collapsing, and more extreme weather events damaging infrastructure, submerging
islands and eroding coast lines. All will alter the very way of life in this country. UNDP’s own estimates suggest Papua New Guinea will experience billions of dollars in economic damage to infrastructure and comity exports alone, as a result of growlingly erratic weather patterns over the next three decades.

The timing of this second summit, offers an important opportunity for us to elevate our voices again. The 27th Conference of Parties or ‘COP’ will meet in Egypt in November this year.

It will continue efforts to drive change and reach consensus among the international community. COP 27 will aim to accelerate global climate action through emissions reduction, scaling-up adaptation efforts and enhancing flows of appropriate finance. It will keep on the agenda, the question of a 'just transition' which remains a priority for developing countries worldwide.

Without it, hundreds of millions of more people will slide back into poverty. This is a timely reminder, particularly following the recent release of UNDP’s flagship Human Development Report.

For over 30 years, these reports have catalogued the opportunities and challenges all countries face. It tells of Papua New Guinea’s development story. Much good progress has been achieved. As we head towards 50 years of independence, we should remind ourselves that such achievements are fragile.

… they can and will be undone by climate inaction. Looking at today’s programme, there will be much opportunity
to consider these and other issues. Let’s however, not let this opportunity go to waste.

Let us use this Summit to spur on momentum.

Let us not forget, that there is no time to lose.

I wish CCDA and all our partners here today the very best for this second climate summit.

Tenk yu tru.
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