New Zealand’s opportunity to exercise leadership once again

The President of the Pasifika Medical Association Dr Kiki Maoate supports the call by Lawyers for Climate Action to ensure that the Government includes the impact of greenhouse gases and climate change resilience is a core part of the assessment of all post-COVID-19 stimulus spending. 

Dr Maoate notes that the Government has a legal obligation to use COVID-19 recovery funds to help NZ transition to a low-emission and climate resilient economy.

This is particularly important for ‘shovel-ready’ projects given the urgency to act to restore economic activities and jobs says Dr Maoate.  PMA is aware of the need to restore opportunities for work as soon as possible, but it is equally important to ensure that climate change resilience is an integral part of these plans.

NZ is a signatory of the Paris Agreement which included a requirement to limit the temperature rise to less that 1.5 degrees Celsius.  Signatories are also expected to development and implement policies for climate change adaptation and mitigation.  The long-term benefits of a green economy are clear.

Actions taken by the New Zealand Government sends strong signals to other nations considering post-COVID-19 investments.  The benefits of investing in a climate-resilient economy in NZ go beyond NZ to residents of Small Islands Developing States, especially the realm nations of the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau.

Dr Maoate notes that the COVID-19 pandemic is a significant short-term threat to human health and the nation but the risks associated with climate change is ongoing.  It is therefore critical to ensure that post-COVID economic investments include provision for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The Pasifika Medical Association is the largest NGO working with Pacific health professionals to promote health and wellbeing of Pacific people in NZ and the Pacific region.

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Date: Tuesday 5 May 2020