The Belgian minister for Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders, took advantage of a meeting with the Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama. He offered Belgium’s support for Fiji’s presidency of COP23, due to be provided by this small island country. Mr Reynders also invited Fiji climate experts to a workshop from March 7th to March 9th in Belgium.
The choice of Fiji as COP23 president is highly symbolic, given the threat that rising sea levels pose to small island states. The country moreover plays a leading role in the fight against climate change.
Fiji will co-preside, together with Sweden, a conference with the United Nations, due to take place from June 5th to June 9th in New York.
This concerns the implementation of objective 14 – sustainable development, namely the preservation and sustainable use of the oceans.
Moreover, from November 6th to November 17th, Fiji will preside over the 23rd UN Conference on Climate Change. For practical reasons, this will take place in Bonn, the head office of the UNFCCC (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).
COP23 follows COP22, which took place in November 2016 in Marrakech and Paris’s COP21, which saw the adoption of the Paris agreement in December 2015.
Didier Reynders also took the opportunity to invite Fiji to a workshop to be held from March 7th to March 9th in Brussels and Ostend, around biodiversity and the oceans.
Didier Reynders suggested, “This may be good preparation for your June conference in New York.” He offered to finance the involvement of Fiji’s experts in this workshop.
Fiji was also invited to a conference organised by Belgium and Tonga, to be held on the fringes of the June meeting in New York.
Lastly, the Belgian minister offered Fiji the assistance of the Belgian climatologist Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, former Vice-President of GIEC. van Ypersele was indeed an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of this group of inter-governmental experts on climate change. His input would be in preparation for the COP23 presidency.