On the 1st of December 2019, Dr. Frank Alafaci, board member of the ACFEA, delivered a speech at the ‘Climate in Multilateral Mode – The Paris Agreement’ Breakout Session C at the Imperial Springs International Forum in Guangzhou, China:
“This year’s forum on Multiculturalism and Sustainable Development focuses on an extremely significant topic.
Our world is grappling with some of the most difficult problems that mankind has ever experienced.
These global dilemmas call for immediate and collective action and can be tackled only if we channel each and everyone’s efforts to the tasks required.
This is exactly where multilateralism plays a fundamental role, now, more than ever before.
Multilateralism presents an important vision for the international community to join together around a shared agenda to implement a sustainable future for all.
It comprises an important process for the construction of a new and ambitious international consensus to meet the need for greater cooperation to address common injustices, natural calamities, terrorism, cyber crime, and health epidemics in order to establish the basis for a stable, transparent and sustainable multilateral framework.
Across 17 SDG’s, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda aims to eliminate poverty , promoting prosperity and wellbeing, protecting the environment, addressing climate change and encouraging good governance and security for all.
Achieving the SDG’s, including their ambitious targets on climate action, universal healthcare and financing for development, will require everyone to work together at all levels to formulate innovative partnerships and solutions.
Indeed, it is on the pressing topic of climate action that I will briefly address the audience that has gathered here today.
On this important subject, there has been a growing incidence of adverse climatic phenomena throughout the world with global warming, rising sea levels, melting ice caps in both the Arctic Circle and Antarctica with concomitant flooding and, conversely, droughts and bushfires brought on by insufficient rain where it is most needed in all nations throughout the entire world.
Alarmingly, we have seen that the small islands of Polynesia have cried out for international mobilisation on climate change in the face of mounting evidence indicating that those islands are sinking into the Pacific Ocean. Similarly, there has been serious mention in Indonesia to transfer the capital of that populous nation from its current site, Jakarta, on the island of Java to a safer, alternative location further north in Borneo, since the former island is also showing signs of eventually going under.
As regards my country, Australia, the marked absence of rainfall and high temperatures have given rise to unprecedented bushfires spread out across the Sydney metropolitan area, as well as in vast tracts of natural land in northern New South Wales and Queensland, leading to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres of precious forests, although the summer season has not yet arrived to our shores. On Black Friday in Victoria, several years earlier, over 100 people lost their lives in devastating bushfires which ravaged that state due to the unusually high temperature levels. Moreover, our prized rural areas,
with their extensive farms and natural resources on which the nation’s massive agricultural produce depends have witnessed severe, protracted instances of drought as a result of unseasonal hot temperatures which have no recollection in living memory.
In trends continuing to this day, too, large parts of Queensland, including its principal city Brisbane, were subjected to extensive flooding several years ago where the widespread floodwaters left thousands of people homeless and resulted in millions of dollars in losses to residential properties and businesses.
Internationally, the 2016 Paris Agreement signed by 171 nations and lesser multilateral conventions inspired by the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 have sought to address these cataclysmic effects of climate change but much more needs to be done on a concrete multilateral level.
It is encouraging to see that China has aligned itself with the positions taken by the Paris Agreement, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Unless the other big nations participate sincerely with no preconditions in concerted efforts to confront this significant problem, nothing will succeed in making a substantial long-term difference.
Our political leaders must seek to restrain the vested interests of the big oil companies, fossil fuel industries and pernicious modes of resources-based production guided by selfish self-interests detrimental to the greater good that are contributing significantly to pollution, carbon emissions, and greenhouse effects which are responsible for global warming.
In dealing with climate change, however, both the public sector and private enterprise need to come together to jointly explore the development of new, innovative and alternative sources of energy – be they solar, wind, electric and hybrid forms – through cooperative research and development initiatives, involving publicly funded investment incentives and tax concessions for businesses to achieve optimum results – as neither governments nor corporations can succeed alone.
We can only effectively confront the scourge of climate change if the world in its entirety commits to undertaking an authentic multilateral approach founded on altruistic, inclusive, practical and wide- ranging negotiated solutions aimed at ameliorating the environmental status of the planet.
In summation, I would like to quote from the Commencement Address delivered at the American University in June 1963 by the iconic American President, John F. Kennedy, when the great statesman spoke about his enduring vision for world peace and nuclear disarmament.
As President Kennedy stated in this unforgettable address:
“For in the final analysis, we all inhabit this small planet; we all breathe the same air; we all cherish our children’s future; and we are all mortal”.