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STATEMENT BY HON. PRIME MINISTER FIAME NAOMI MATAAFA OF SAMOA AT THE ILO GLOBAL FORUM ON HUMAN CENTRED RECOVERY

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Mr. Guy Ryder,

Director General of ILO;Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Talofa and Warm Pacific Greetings. .

We convene this global forum, as we enter the third year of the COVID19 pandemic.

 Challenging and difficult times continue to beset our people and region adding weight to an already onerous climate crisis. Samoa joined a number of our Pacific neighbours impacted by the onslaught of the pandemic whittling to tatters our hard earned gains to keep COVID out of our small island countries.

Thankfully for Samoa, we continue to succeed in containment of the virus at our borders.

 We remain vigilant in ensuring that our response prioritizes the protection of lives, while still upholding the rule of law, respecting human rights, providing the necessary public services and minimizing the impact of the restrictions on the daily lives of our citizens. A strong public health response is critical and includes getting vaccinated as well as practising public health measures for good hygiene and COVID prevention.

 We remain on track to achieve high vaccination rates for the 12-17 cohort as well as those above 18 years old. The Booster roll out program has begun and we are preparing for administering the paediatric vaccine.

 The support of our development partners and international community have been crucial in our ongoing planning and modeling and response to the pandemic. International cooperation remains key to our ongoing efforts and facilitating response plans.

 While it has not taken lives directly, COVID has introduced a ‘new normal’ to our way of life. Our already small economies have been hit hardest with the crippling brunt of the pandemic felt in the few growth sectors we depend on

 Employment has fizzled to an all-time low. Social cohesion is under pressure. The social fabric of our society is impacted particularly with the impact of restrictions on communal association and face to face contact. Students are not adapting well to online learning Our people are struggling with living life in isolation and being removed from the humanity of communal living.

 While the safety and well-being of our people remains paramount, we continue to try and adapt and build resilience, while learning new methods of tackling this global emergency throughout all the sectors of our economies and most evidently in the world of work.

 In addition to Stimulus packages, government has also continued awareness programmes in communities on health as well as gender based violence and violence against children aggravated by socioeconomic pressures.

 Despite travel restrictions, the government has supported the continuing operation of labour mobility and seasonal worker schemes of Australia and New Zealand, which saw movement of around 10,000 workers to and from Samoa since the onset of the pandemic. We have become cognizant of the gaps in social protection and the need to address these in a sustainable manner.

 We welcome the ILC’s “Global Call to Action for a Human-Centred Recovery from the COVID-19 Crisis that is Inclusive, Sustainable and Resilient.” It is critical that we commit to pursue a “strong and coherent global response in support of Member States’ crises response and recovery strategies, including through joint initiatives and enhanced institutional arrangements among international and regional organizations.”

 This commitment encompasses what Governments should be and are currently implementing in their respective territories. It must also be emphasized and insisted upon by all constituents that the principles of tripartite consultation must be embedded throughout the processes of developing and reviewing strategies for inclusive, sustainable, and resilient recovery.

 Although we have been occupied with tackling the pandemic, the recent COP26 made it abundantly clear that the global threat of climate change remains our greatest challenge. The Glasgow Climate Pact from COP26 recognised for the first time the inclusion of Just Transition, focusing on low-energy emissions systems and job creation. We continue to encourage this transition as it contributes to ensuring we meet the promise of the Paris Agreement for a 1.5 Degree world. We look forward to all parties providing concrete plans for their net-zero pledges by COP27 and insist that all fossil fuel subsidies – not just “inefficient” subsidies – need to be phased out. This is key to the survival of our nations and peoples

Excellencies,

 Our commitment towards a ‘Just Transition’ and the need for genuine efforts by all to ensure that the creation of decent employment is at the core of climate action. Samoa and Pacific Island States are continuing to address the vulnerabilities that exist due to climate change and its impacts on employment in key economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism.

 As Co-Chair of the Climate Action for Jobs, International AdvisoryBoard, Samoa challenges our global partners to leverage this platform and drive climate action while ensuring livelihoods are safeguarded.

 For this reason, Samoa commends the launching of the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for a Just Transition at the General Assembly in September 2021. While the commitment is applauded, we must ensure all voices, including the Blue Pacific’s are heard loud and clear followed by focused action. Samoa continues to take a human rights approach to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and our vision is to foster social harmony, safety and freedom for all. Thus in our COVID recovery and sustainable development efforts, we are pushing for empowerment of our communities, sharing prosperity for all and building resilience, despite the many challenges.

Excellencies,

 As the front-liners of climate change impacts, Samoa and the Blue Pacific need all the ambitious climate action pledges and commitments to be implemented. A just transition to carbon neutral economies that ensures greater protection for our workers, improved social protection for our peoples, and greater inclusion of youth, women, and girls at all levels, can play an important role in our global efforts

 In the region we also need to contextualize the concept of just transition and green jobs, in order to capitalize on opportunities. Investment in science and technology, including building the necessary capacity to better benefit from these investments, is important for SIDS like Samoa

 The Dialogue for Pacific Island Countries on Just Transition during the COP 26 already highlighted key areas for interventions including green skills development and integration into formal education, addressing knowledge gaps on climate change, and building resilient infrastructure.

 To enable this, we recognize that financing for SIDS is critical in order to access affordable, renewable energy technologies.

Excellencies,

 In closing, we acknowledge the work and support of the ILO, in furthering Samoa and the Pacific’s efforts towards inclusive, full and productive employment.

 We continue to uphold our commitments to decent work through improved labour standards built on the foundation of our culture and heritage perpetuating social harmony in our region.

 We will also continue to observe the guidelines of greening the economies for more opportunities to accelerate economic growth and generate decent jobs that will contribute significantly to poverty reduction and social inclusion.

I wish you success in your deliberations.

Soifua

Prime Minister of Samoa; Fiame Naomi Mataafa
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