For the first time, someone from the Pacific Island has been elected President of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Pacific community has since welcomed the election of the Fiji ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Peter Thomson.

Upon his election, Mr. Thomson said his emergence as President of the UN General Assembly recognised that the 12 small developing Pacific Island states were playing an active role in the UN.

“We’re not just here to make up the numbers, we’re here to contribute as well,” he said.

He disclosed that climate change and saving the world’s oceans would be at the top of his agenda.

“Whether you look at ocean warming — or whether it’s ocean acidification, declining fish stocks, marine pollution — the ocean is dying, and we’re here to tell the world that is not good enough, we’re going to turn it around,” he said. “You can expect me to be vocal on these issues,” he added.

Fiji was the first country to ratify the Paris climate deal on global warming. Mr. Thomson said he would push for progress on achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“The fact is we have to implement that agenda again if we’re going to produce an environment, or sustain an environment, where our grandchildren can live on this planet,” he stated.

He explained that anybody who hasn’t familiarised themselves with the goals is not playing their full role as a human being.

“We must all embrace those [sustainable development] goals — they’re the recipe for our survival on this planet.”

Author: Ope Adedeji