Iokwe aolep from the Republic of the Marshall Islands
I welcome you all to this home of the world’s first island-based research Center for transitioning our Large Ocean States through the necessary decarbonisation of transport all countries must now embark on. It is an enormous challenge ahead, as our Pacific leaders continually remind us – we are all in the same canoe - we must all work together and go in the same direction. We thank you for your support and continued interest in our efforts to keep our vision alive.
MCST was born out of the Paris Agreement. In 2013 RMI was the first Pacific country to highlight the need to pivot to the hitherto forgotten transport sector and the first to set targets in the Majuro Declaration on Climate Leadership. We were the first to set out a national strategy for transport transition, the 2015 MCST Framework, a 15-year strategy for RMI and our neighbors. And we are the first to set a firm target for transport emissions reduction in our expanded NDC, which we lodged in December 2020.
We are a new Center, a new approach to providing high quality research and support to our island governments and communities. We know that only a paradigm shift can meet this climate emergency, both in technologies but more importantly, in our approach to problem solving. The solutions we need will not be the same as ones for large continents. Ours is proudly a country-driven, Pacific-centric and multi-partner approach. We know we have to build from a sound base of education and research if we want long term and ocean-based solutions. We know we can’t do this alone. We welcome our new Board members from our expanding academy; Hochschule Emden-Leer, University College London and University New South Wales. Kommoltata to colleagues at TU Delft, Manchester, Columbia, Queensland, Southampton, Erasmus, Sorbonne, Hawaii and around the globe.
We have advanced considerably as leaders since Tony de Brum called us to establish MCST in 2015. A heartfelt thanks to the team in RMI and my predecessor, Hon. Wilbur Heine, for his pioneering leadership on behalf of our citizens and Pacific people. Since 2015, MCST has been running full-steam ahead, with several major projects completed and an expanding work program. We are now onto the second phase of the Cerulean Project and we are excited to see one of our notable shipping partners, Swire take on this challenge to advance a fleet of low-carbon shipping vessels in the near future. We continue to successfully backstop Pacific high ambition at IMO and we are working hard with our partners in ongoing development of the Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership.
The COVID-19 pandemic did its number as it came upon us at the end of March, 2020. The first outbreak of its kind in recent history resulting in nationwide lockdowns, social distancing, border restrictions and quarantine strategies have pushed the limits of resources in our Pacific island countries slowing down economies and trade and hindering movement and travel. Despite these setbacks affecting our administration and support, the MCST has proven its resilience to maintain its networks with its stakeholders and forging new partnerships, pushing the boundaries of applied and meaningful research and making the most of ICT and internet facilities to support our bwebwenato conversations.
I thank the University of the South Pacific for the institutional and infrastructural support to MCST to enable robust networks, backed with high quality evidence-based research for our private sector and government partners. I thank our local, national, regional and international and Swire Shipping, partners for showing their commitment to meet with us in all circumstances to ensure in this climate crisis that is upon us.
As our partners at Waan Aelõñ in Majel (Canoes of the Marshall Islands) continue to remind us – wa kuk wa jimor – canoes bring people together.
Hon. Kitlang Kabua
Minister of Education, Sports and Training