The high profile meeting was attended by global government leaders, and finance, business, and civil society officials.
Puna’s Advisor Trevor Pitt said the PM, along with leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, attended discussions on Friday morning with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to reinforce the climate change priority for the Pacific region.
“The Pacific presence at the UN is very high and provided a key dimension in the global priority pushed by the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) bloc,” reads a release issued by Pitt.
Outcomes of the summit identified by Pitt include “significant” boosts in funding commitments by developed countries to fight the impacts of climate change.
“Ban Ki-moon was encouraged by the pledges to increase the Green Climate Fund. However, the Pacific Region’s message remains firm: their survival is at stake unless the commitments of developed countries translate into urgent action to contend with the current adversities of climate change,” reads the release.
Pitt said the PM has “... consistently backed the collective leadership of the Pacific Region to provide impetus and encouragement for much broader international action.”
“Our environment is intimately tied to the everyday livelihood of small communities, and to national economic opportunity and growth,” Puna is quoted as saying.
“... the Cook Islands and its Pacific colleagues want to see that the political will and commitment that is talked about by the more advantaged countries really does provide the additional resources that the Region has sought for many years,” reads the release.
Upon conclusion of the summit, Pitt said the PM is confident significant progress will be achieved in time for the 2015 Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UNFCCC is held in France next year.
According to media reports, Puna was put on the defensive during the summit when he was asked “... about Australia's apparent reluctance to engage on the issue” of climate change.
Australian PM Tony Abbott was hammered in the media for not attending Tuesday climate meetings, with a story in the Sydney Morning Herald claiming, “... the change in Australia's climate change position – from a world leader to a nation of concern – had been a point of discussion internationally in the lead up to this week's talks.”
In response to questions about the Australian position, Puna reportedly said "there is no point in throwing stones".
While in New York, Puna and Minister of Health Nandi Glassie attended a UN session on human rights and sustainable development.
Also joining the leaders in NYC was Speaker of Parliament Nikki Rattle – who made a presentation on sexual and reproductive health and rights from a regional perspective at a side event.