Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism Meet in Suva and Call for Regional Policy Initiatives

The Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism (SSCR) met last week at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva.

They discussed their role in ensuring the Framework for Pacific Regionalism continues to identify and deliver major regional initiatives to Pacific Leaders. They were also briefed by the Forum Secretariat on progress made against the five regional priorities endorsed by Leaders last year through the Framework.

The Sub-Committee were positive about the results that had already been achieved in relation to the climate change initiative, both in the lead up to, and following, the COP21 climate meeting in Paris. They were also encouraged by the headway currently being made on initiatives focussed on fisheries, cervical cancer, information and communications technology, and allegations of human rights abuse in West Papua (Papua).

“We are happy with the progress to date and discussed what can be done to ensure that this continues. It’s important to remember that what is currently being done is just the beginning. These five regional initiatives are big undertakings and it will take time before we really see the benefits. It would be fair to say that 6 months on from the Leaders meeting in Port Moresby, there is good reason for optimism,” said sub-committee member Ms Teresa Manarangi-Trott of the Cook Islands.

The SSCR reviewed the way in which the process for public submissions of regional policy initiatives was run last year, and they made recommendations for improving it in 2016. Particular consideration was given to the many ways in which civil society and the private sector contribute to the development of regional public policy, with the sub-committee recommending that their role should be more clearly defined in future. They also offered advice on the kinds of submissions they would like to see.

“In some cases last year we received research projects and project funding proposals. We would like to discourage these types of submissions this time round. The kinds of initiatives we want are those that are of the utmost importance to all the peoples and member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum and the addressing of which will contribute to a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity,” said sub-committee member Mr Lopeti Senituli of Tonga.

The Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism consists of eight eminent people with diverse backgrounds who possess skill sets and areas of expertise representing the broad interests of the region. The SSCR play a crucial role in connecting the people of the Pacific to the Leaders of the Pacific, through the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.

The 2016 call for regional policy initiatives under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism is now open. Submissions will be received until Sunday 10 April.

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