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Dec 12, 2018

The Talanoa Dialogue: What Does it Mean for Belize and the Other SIDS?

COP 24 is just a few days away from wrapping up and one of its big events that culminated today in Poland is the Talanoa Dialogue. It is a mechanism being used to help countries keep track of their climate change targets. This mechanism adopts the traditional style of the Pacific people. It brought countries together to share where they are, what they have done and where they want to go in terms of achieving the Paris Agreement.  We spoke today with negotiator Carlos Fuller about the inclusive approach to Talanoa. Andrea Polanco reports.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Back in 2015, the Paris Agreement made provisions for formal discussions among parties to check the progress of their goals in 2018. At last year’s COP, that “facilitative dialogue” was renamed the Talanoa Dialogue. Fiji introduced the Talanoa as their approach to take stock of what countries are doing to reduce greenhouse gases.

 

Carlos Fuller

Carlos Fuller, Negotiator, SIDS

“To use a traditional way of communicating in the Pacific, in which the people, if they have problem, they resolve it by telling stories. And telling stories, they generate empathy and then they get collective action towards an end.”

 

The process started earlier this year with technical dialogues among the parties at the international, regional and national levels. This traditional approach also accepted stories and evidence of climate change from Cities, N.G.O.s, civil society and governments. The Talanoa Dialogue started on Tuesday and culminated today at the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, with the SIDS hoping for more than just a political declaration.

 

Carlos Fuller

“It will culminate here in Katowice, with a closing technical session and the political process began. There were several Talanoas of groups of about ten ministers and civil society during the day yesterday. And the presidency today will bring all of that together and have a final outcome. From a small islands perspective, we would like the outcome to also contribute to a decision because the whole purpose of the Talanoa dialogue was to ramp up the NDCs to make them much stronger.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“The Talanoa is not legally binding, noh?”

 

Carlos Fuller

“No and that is why we would like the outcome, besides being a political declaration which is what is going to occur, is that that it also goes into a COP decision; where it says based on the findings of the Talanoa Dialogue, parties are committed to doing x,y,z.”

 

The Small Island Developing States, of which the Pacific islands are a part of, are some of the most vulnerable to climate change. Rising sea levels, extreme heat and rainfall are just a few of the threats to the existence of millions of people in these low-low-lying states. And so for SIDS, it is critical that the Talanoa Dialogue achieves what it has set out to do.

 

Carlos Fuller

“Because the current set of NDCs only provide for a three degree level of warming, while the Paris Agreement itself says we must go as far below two degrees Celsius as possible, aiming for one point five. So, that is the outcome that we are hoping for today.”

 

On Tuesday, Fuller participated in a Talanoa on behalf of Belize. There he shared stories about how Belize and Belizeans are affected by climate change.

 

Carlos Fuller

“I referenced the World Met Organization state of the climate report that said that the past four years are the warmest on record; that current concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are at an all time high, never before seen in the past three to five million years. And when that did occur five million years ago, sea levels were fifteen feet above the present level, which means that Belize City, the coastline of Belize and all our cayes would have been under water. So, I say that is unacceptable for us. It is a matter of survival.”

 

But we’ll only know if the Talanoa Dialogue makes difference if countries adjust their pledges over the next year to make them more ambitious than what was set out in the Paris Agreement. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

A few hours after our interview, the Fijian and Polish presidency teams closed the dialogue with an urgent call to action. The Talanoa Dialogue called on governments to act with ambition and make it clear that they are committed to strengthening their national climate commitments by 2020.

This story was supported by the 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership, a collaboration between Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Foundation.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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