The annual conference of the New Zealand Council for International Development focused on humanitarian aid and its relationship with the Pacific Islands.
The Council for International Development (CID) is the national coordinating agency for New Zealand organizations working on international development.
The theme of the conference was ‘New ways of working: stronger relationships and resilience’.
I wanted to shed light on how New Zealand’s aid sector has changed since Covid, with aid programs and humanitarian responses targeted more locally.
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown was the first to speak, followed by Samoa Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa.
Prime Minister Brown pointed to the need for Rarotonga to move away from tourism as its main source of income.
“Tourism will always be important to the Cook Islands and it will be the fastest way for the country to recover, but it can no longer be our only primary industry. We will have to look at other sectors such as fishing, commerce and financial services., the creative economy and the minerals of the seabed, “he said.
Mark Brown also challenged the largest nations to protect the Pacific islands by emitting fewer greenhouse gases. A message that has not changed since the Paris agreement on climate change in 2015.
“We are not the ones who should change the way we do things to keep the temperature rise by 1.5 degrees. They are the largest developed countries and the main emitting countries. Many of us in the Pacific have contributed our granite of sand in mitigation by turning to renewable energy, even though our emissions are equivalent to a phosphorus flame in a forest fire, “he said.
“Right now, we are building the banks of our highest streams to protect homes that for the first time in our history are being hit by flooding. We are building water storage on islands that have never experienced levels of drought before, which we see now . “
Prime Minister Brown said that we are busy looking for ways to protect ourselves against the impact of climate change that we are experiencing. Now.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Samoa, Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa, made her debut and criticized the foreign aid system for not always taking into account the best interests of Samoa.
He also called on humanitarian groups to prepare for the cyclone season.
“As the Pacific approaches cyclone season, it is important to consider the fact that this is an important opportunity to further strengthen localized humanitarian action in the Pacific,” he said.
Fiamē said it is important for the private sector and NGOs to work in partnership with the governments of New Zealand and Samoa.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark spoke about the pandemic leading to extreme poverty during the conference.
“So we’ve seen extreme poverty increase again for the first time this century. You more or less equate that with the number of people who are starving very, very severely, an increase in number, as a result of the pandemic. There will be more. maternal mortality reported as a result of this, “he said.
Helen Clark outlined how Covid-19 vaccines need to be made more readily available because the unavailability of the vaccine has sparked a humanitarian crisis.
He said it is critical that New Zealand responds to the needs of the Pacific islands and enables them to lead their own priorities.