As the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference gets underway in Paris, Pacific island nations are emphasizing the devastating impact of climate change not only from an environmental perspective, but also on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health.
“Kaila!” has several meanings in different parts of the Pacific. In the official Fijian language “Kaila!” means to emphatically shout out aloud – both in celebration as well as a passionate expression of intent, including a call to action.
It’s entirely appropriate then that “Kaila!” headlines the outcome document, “Pacific Voice for Action on Agenda 2030” that emerged from a truly significant consultation in Nadi from October 26-28. UNFPA (via its Pacific Sub-Regional Office) and other H4+ partners, together with the Government of Fiji and in collaboration with the Every Woman Every Child global movement, hosted ministers from 14 Pacific island nations to strategize on strengthening climate change resilience through reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH).
The Nadi dialogue and its outcome document support the consensus that has emerged under the renewed Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, launched by the Secretary-General at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September, calling for RMNCAH to be better prioritized in humanitarian and fragile settings and contexts.
Evidence clearly shows that countries with poor RMNCAH outcomes rank high among those most directly impacted by climate change. And, of course, climate change itself is further driving negative impacts on health.
Strong RMNCAH is vital in making a dent in this vicious circle, strengthening the resilience of affected populations. The Nadi consultation underscored the urgent need to integrate disaster risk reduction and emergency response planning into national and regional RMNCAH interventions.
The ministers were joined by HRH Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan, a global advocate for women and children’s health who leads the humanitarian settings work stream for the next EWEC Global Strategy. Her keynote address reinforced the urgency of this work, as well as the spirit of “Kaila!” going forward.
The outcome document will now be Pacific nations’ collective contribution to global dialogue related to population and development dynamics, particularly on RMNCAH, beginning with the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, as well as the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in 2016.
All of this, of course, coincides with the advent of the era of the Sustainable Development Goals that constitute the 2030 Agenda, under which the issue of climate change and its manifold impacts cuts across the work that UNFPA and the wider UN family does. The “Kaila!” document and the aspirations it represents could not have been formulated at a more important time. UNFPA congratulates the Pacific island nations for standing together and speaking out on behalf of their populations – and the world.