New York, U.S.A – September 25, 2019: 1.15pm (Nuku’alofa Times/OUTLOOK INDIA): Tonga is one of the 12 Pacific Island countries that will benefit from a US$1 million grant per country from the Government of India, which was announced here in New York on Tuesday.
India is giving the grant to 12 Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) for developmental projects in their countries that are threatened by rising sea levels.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the India-Pacific Islands Developing States (PSIDS) Leaders Meeting, held on the sidelines of the 74th UNGA, also announced a concessional Line of Credit of US$150 million for undertaking solar, renewable energy and climate related projects based on their requirement.
The meeting was attended by the Heads of delegation of Fiji, Republic of Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Palau, Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu and Republic of Vanuatu.
Tonga was represented at the meeting by the Chief Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office and Secretary to Cabinet, Mr Edgar Cocker, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr Mahe Tupouniua and Chief Executive Officer for Finance,Ms Balwyn Fa’otusia.
Mr Cocker, leading Tonga’s delegation at the current UN Climate Summit, thanked Prime Minister Modi.
“We are grateful to the Indian Government for this assistance,” Mr Cocker said.
“This is much appreciated and we thank the Prime Minister of India and the Government of India for the assistance.
“Tonga is facing the challenge of sea level rising just like our other Pacific neighbours. It is a challenge we fave every day.
“To have such support signals the commitment our partners like India have on helping us in the islands reduce the risks and help build resistance in our own local communities.”
Mr Cocker said the asisstance would help Tonga achieve SDG14 commitments and also help in achieving the SAMOA PATHWAY in that area.
SDG14 focuses on Life Below Water.
India’s relationship with Pacific Island nations has deepened with the evolution of Act East Policy, resulting in the setting up of the action-oriented Forum for India-Pacific Island Cooperation (FIPIC).
The first and second editions of the FIPIC took place in Fiji (2015) and Jaipur (2016). During the FIPIC Summits Prime Minister articulated India’s desire to be a close partner of the Pacific Island nations and its readiness to work closely to advance their developmental agenda.
This is the first time Prime Minister Modi has met the leaders of the PSIDS on the margins of UNGA in the format.
The Leaders’ deliberated on wide range of issues including sharing of development experiences for attainment of SDGs, enhancing cooperation in renewable energy, joining the newly launched Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, capacity building, implementation of projects under the India-UN Development Partnership Fund and a roadmap for future India-PSIDS cooperation.
PM Modi emphasised that India and the PSIDS have shared values and a shared future. He highlighted the need for development policies to be inclusive and sustainable to reduce inequality and contribute to empowerment and improvement of the quality of people’s lives. He said that India is equally committed to tackle the impact of climate change and supports efforts of the PSIDs to achieve their developmental goals through necessary developmental and technical assistance.
PM Modi underlined the reality of climate change and called for increasing the share of renewable energy in the total energy mix to mitigate many adverse effects of climate change. He also expressed India’s readiness to share its experiences in developing alternate energy.
He expressed his satisfaction as many countries from the region have joined the International Solar Alliance and invited others to join this initiative.
He also invited Leaders of PSIDS to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).
The Pacific countries also have the chance to get technical experts to provide training, with India offering to organise specialised courses also under ITEC programme in priority areas
India has also offered to help train of diplomats from Pacific Island nations at the Foreign Service Institute.
A Jaipur Foot Artificial Limb Fitment Camp was also proposed for the Pacific regional hub under ‘India for Humanity’ programme.
PM Modi also announced the Distinguished Visitors Programme under which eminent persons from these countries can visit India.
An invitation was also extended to the Leaders for a visit of a Pacific Parliamentarian delegation.
And to continue High-Level engagement, PM Modi also extended an invitation to all the leaders for the 3rd FIPIC Summit to be held in Port Moresby in the first half of 2020.
Leaders of PSIDS welcomed the initiatives proposed by PM Modi to strengthen engagement and cooperation between the two sides and reassured full support from their respective governments, the statement said.
NOTE: Iliesa Tora’s presence at the UN Climate Summit has been made possible with funding from the UN-OHRLLS/Island Voices and the Forum Secretariat (PIFS).