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K.M. Nailatikau: Address to World Summit 2015

Address to World Summit 2015, Seoul, Korea, August 27 to 31, 2015

It was said at this very summit last year: “Peace would not be found amongst countries until peace was found between their religions.” This resonated the great words of the late Rev. Moon: “If we have not achieved peace, it is because people forget its most fundamental aspect. Before we talk about peace among nations, we must settle our peace with God.”

Our peace with God starts from within each and every one of us and that peace through our faith must set the foundation in our homes for our families. The family is a nation’s guarantee for success and survival, and a formidable insurance against undesirable and destructive forms of existence and governance.1 It is with the family that one sets the countless informal rules of conduct that mold our next generation, our children, to be exceptional citizens of our nations. These countless informal rules of cooperation, truthfulness, love and caring and so forth cannot be taught in a classroom; they start in the home. These fundamentals of the family and home are what we must return to and reiterate when we envision world peace since it is the dock from which we set our children adrift on the currents of life, where we equip them with their compasses, charts and suitable provisions for their voyage.2

Furthermore, where the family is the foundation, it is women who are the bonds that fortify this foundation. Usually overlooked but if broken or missing, the foundation and all that stands on it will eventually fall. The last 20 years has seen Fiji remove all vestiges of discrimination against gender from laws and policies, but it is something that is still slowly being enforced in my country and region. I have often said that what women bring to the table is immeasurable on many levels and if I had to review that statement, it would be: “What don’t they bring to the table?”

A woman’s place in the family is just as important as a woman’s place in a business and even at the head of a country – and it is our duty as leaders to see that our women are given and provided with the equal opportunity to pursue all that they can. To secure this for our women is to secure the foundations of our families and therefore our nations. Thus it is our collective interest to pursue wholeheartedly equal opportunity and standing for women at all levels.

On learning that my speech this morning was to be a talk on Women, the Family and Peace in the context of our beautiful overall theme of Peace, Security and Human Development, I must address what directly affects the Women, the Family and Peace as well as our Peace, Security and Human Development in Fiji and the South Pacific, and that is Climate Change. Recent times have brought about many cynics of climate change who claim that the occurrences worldwide are due to natural reactions of Mother Nature and changing times.

As convincing as their charts and graphs and so-called evidence may be, I humbly request that these cynics come to our region, to our islands, to our homes where they will see the hard-cold evidence and harsh reality that our people are faced with and live with every day.

I ask them to come and explain their skeptical arguments to the people of Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Kiribati who have been directly affected by the 20cm-level rise in sea waters since 1900 and whose islands will be mostly non-existent should the predicted 1m rise of sea levels take place by 2100.

Please come and explain your cynical arguments to the elders of these small island nations who are directly affected by the historical ties to their land that make it impossible for them to leave; to the families of those whose lives Cyclone Pam claimed this year and to the nation of Vanuatu that is still rebuilding herself from ground zero; to the people of Tonga and Samoa who were devastated by Cyclone Ian, Cyclone Evan and Cyclone Wilma in recent years and to the villages of Vuanidogo and Volivoli in Fiji who are the first, and most likely not the last, of villages that have to now relocate due to the rising sea levels in our region.

What is it then that we from Fiji and our threatened yet ever-breathtaking South Pacific Region ask of you all?

Accept the responsibility and consequences of your past actions, accept the responsibility to move towards sustainable methods and resources so that we can truly advance as one world with a common goal.3 

Awareness of these changing times starts with each of you and starts, as I mentioned before, in your homes and in your families. What you teach your children now in your larger nations is what could save our children and hopefully our children’s children in years to come. So please, I urge you to start there.

Furthermore, this should not be something new since the fundamentals of our religious denominations, which sets the framework of our beliefs, have some of the oldest and most beautifully written environmental policies and laws that were given by our Lord Father himself that basically specify that man and the environment should live in harmony and should never take more than can be replenished for the sake of all of God’s creations.

It is returning to these fundamentals, reinforcing these foundations and nurturing our basic responsibilities in our homes that I believe will then spill over into our communities and nations, which will ensure continuous peace and security for the good of human development for us all.


For more information about the World Summit, click here.

1 Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, “Keynote Address – The Family,” December 1994. 
2 Ibid.
Pope Francis, “Encyclical Letter on Care for our Common Home,” June 2015.