2015 promises deeper Pacific regionalism

Kicking off 2015, Dame Meg Taylor, the new Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), is firm that a new year’s resolution must be enhanced Pacific regionalism.

“The Framework for Pacific Regionalism, endorsed by our Leaders in July 2014, calls for a new regional public policy process,” Secretary General Taylor explained recently to a gathering of executives of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) in Suva. “It demands game changing interventions in support of a new regional politic, and we must be prepared to implement the Leaders’ vision.”

Pacific Plan Review team members that seeded the new strategy for regionalism have been examining the implications of the Framework on current regional systems with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, CROP Executives and Heads of Pacific Islands Forum Missions in Suva, Fiji, from 3-6 February. “The region we found during the Pacific Plan Review in 2013 was frankly quite fragmented,” observed reviewer Ms. Noumea Simi of the Government of Samoa. “The region needed something more potent to realise the benefits of collective effort.”

Reviewers Mr. Robert Igara of Papua New Guinea and Mr. Peter Bazeley of the UK assert that a focus on the system of regionalism is important. “We need to look at whether the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” they explain, “This means focusing on the collective outcomes from the interaction of regional players, not simply the different parties. It requires greater inclusivity in support of regional outcomes, particularly for civil society and the private sector.” Dame Meg Taylor reiterates, “At the heart of deepened regionalism is clear control by Leaders of the regional agenda. If we can’t collectively support the realisation of Leaders’ vision then we need to re-think what we’re here to do.”

The year ahead promises to be very busy for the Pacific region.

(NOTE: The Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific includes: FFA, PASO, PPA, PIDP, PIFS, SPC, SPREP, SPTO and USP.)


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