Opening remarks by SG Tuiloma Neroni Slade at SIS officials meeting
Suva, Fiji
13 July 2009

Distinguished Delegates
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am very pleased to welcome you all to this session of the SIS Officials Meeting. I begin by noting that this is my first SIS Officials Meeting in my capacity as the Secretary General, and I am deeply honoured to do so. Of more importance I note also that this is the first SIS Officials Meeting that precedes the PPAC and FOC discussions. We hope in taking this approach, SIS issues will feature prominently and more explicitly in the PPAC discussions and by extension, contribute to the formulation of priorities for consideration by our Leaders as they deliberate on our course of action in the coming year.

2. The meeting agenda will continue to capture the reality and complexity of the problems, and equally of the successes, currently experienced by the SIS. As mentioned, it is envisaged these issues be discussed in more detail at the PPAC meeting. It is therefore important for you representatives to use the opportunity at this meeting to discuss and work out ways of advancing those issues further within the context of the SIS.

3. We would also urge that this meeting continues to focus on key important and relevant issues of high priority to SIS which can effectively be addressed through regional or sub-regional solutions.

4. A key factor underlying the successful implementation of resolutions of the SIS Leaders is strong national, sub-regional and regional commitments. Without these commitments, there is little that SIS can achieve to progress agreed and collective initiatives that address long outstanding challenges faced by SIS. SIS, being the smallest countries of the Forum membership, should value greatly collective initiatives to support their development challenges.

5. Transportation, labour mobility, energy including bulk procurement, climate change and development financing, continue to be high priority for the SIS. These are issues which continue to stretch our limited social and economic capacities on the one hand, yet on the other, provide the necessary leverages for amore sustainable livelihood at both national and regional levels. In the past year, the onslaught of the Global Economic and Financial Crisis adds another dimension that heightens the need for us to rethink and consolidate our collective efforts to address these issues.

6. We would also like to urge SIS that they continue to strengthen their networking with CROP agencies to ensure that they continue to derive maximum benefits from regional programmes, to assist them in progressing these priority areas, including of course their own national development pursuits.

7. The placement of SIS Desk Officers in country has, I believe, strengthened the Secretariat’s presence and engagement at the national level. They are key positions in facilitating our engagement with you. We will continue to support these positions subject of course to funding availability.

8. As I believe will apply for this session, I understand that past practice dictates the confirmation of the Chair by consensus. However, for the future, I would like to suggest for consideration whether we might apply a standard procedure along the lines of that used for FOC, of an alphabetical rotation of the Chair. Perhaps this could be included for consideration in Other Matters on the agenda.

9. With these words I thank you for your attention, and wish you well in your discussions.

10. I should now seek from you your choice to preside over your deliberations.

Thank you