Opening Remarks, SG Slade, 10th EDF Tech Evaluation Committee
First Meeting of the 10th EDF Technical Evaluation Committee
Suva, Fiji
19 January 2009

Opening Remarks by Tuiloma Neroni Slade
Secretary General and Regional Authorising Officer

Members of the Technical Evaluation Committee
Ambassador van der Goot
Ladies and Gentlemen

First, I want to welcome you all to this first session of the Technical Evaluation Committee. The occasion is significant because it is the first such meeting of such a Committee. During the course of our work I hope we can discuss the idea of this Committee becoming a standing committee to assist the Regional Authorising Officer (RAO) in implementing the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme, especially at national level.

2. I should then say that with this, the first regional context and opportunity we have had since the signing event in Strasbourg last year, I, in my role as Secretary General and on behalf of the countries represented today – indeed, on behalf of the region as a whole – wish to express to the European Commission and its member countries our deepest appreciation and gratitude for the magnitude and generosity of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) facility. I am particularly pleased to be able to convey this personally to and through the Head of the European Commission Delegation, Ambassador van der Goot, and from his Mission headquarters where we are privileged to meet.

3. With respect to the agenda before you, you will see that it is focused on the identification and selection of concept notes that we could develop into regional projects under the two focal areas of the 10th EDF Pacific Regional Indicative Programme (EDF PRIP).

4. You will recall that from March 2006 to November 2008 there had been an exchange of views between the RAO, your respective offices, non state actors and the European Commission on the regional programming of the 10th EDF. The exchange of views had resulted in the conclusion of the 10th EDF Pacific Regional Strategy Paper and Regional Indicative Programme (RSP/RIP). On behalf of the Pacific membership I was honoured to sign this with the European Commission in my role as Regional Authorising Officer, on 15 November 2008 in Strasbourg. A hard copy of the document is available in your meeting papers.

5. The 10th EDF Pacific Regional Strategy and Indicative Programme (RSP/RIP) covers the period 2008 – 2013 and has two focal areas: one being the Regional Economic Integration (REI) with a total indicative allocation of 45 million Euros; and the other being the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Environment (SMNRE) with a total indicative allocation of 40 million Euros. A non focal area for 10 million Euros was also agreed with the EC. The Pacific region has therefore been allocated a total of 95 million Euros for the 10th EDF regional programme.

6. To commence the identification of projects my office launched a “Restricted Call for Concept Notes” for the two focal areas on 4 November 2008, requesting all eligible applicants to submit concept notes. By the closing date of 5 December 2008, the Office of the RAO had received twenty eight (28) Concept Notes with a total indicative budget of more than €200 million Euros, more than twice the allocation of the two focal areas.

7. Fifteen (15) concept notes worth an indicative budget of more than one hundred and eleven (€111) million Euros were submitted under focal area one – Regional Economic Integration, while eleven (11) concept notes worth an indicative budget of more than ninety one (€91) million Euros were submitted under focal area two – Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Environment. Two (2) of the eleven concept notes fall under both focal sectors.

8. An external consultant was engaged by the office of the RAO to undertake an independent assessment of these 28 concept notes and to provide the RAO with a list of compliant and non compliant submissions, and also to indicate: first, which of these concept notes are very good; secondly, which could be merged; and thirdly, those that require further work. The consultant’s report will be considered under agenda item 5 (a), (b) and (c). On this point, let me emphasis that the evaluation was based on compliance with guidelines and not necessarily on the technical merits of individual proposals.

9. Allow me now to highlight some of the key factors that in my view warrants the establishment and functioning of this Technical Evaluation Committee with its membership drawn from the Pacific ACP states.

10. As I have indicated, the Committee is new and gathers for the first time. Its overall role will be to facilitate and ensure a strategic approach to the identification and selection of projects from the 10th EDF Pacific Regional Indicative Programme. This strategic approach should reduce risks and provide new opportunities for regional integration amongst Pacific ACP States.

11. My information is that, hitherto under previous EDFs, the selection of regional projects had largely been in the province of, if not driven by, the RAO and CROP agencies with insignificant inputs, if any at all, from the Pacific ACP countries. The result, it would seem, is that member countries were not fully informed and, effectively, were only involved in the programming stage, which is, the preparation and development of a Regional Support Strategy (RSS).

12. Consequently, since member states had not been directly involved in the selection process, it is not difficult to imagine a lack of any real sense of ownership of regional EDF projects at the national level. It follows that there would be consequential difficulties with country-level monitoring of regional EDF projects. Moreover, there would be serious risk of a major development and cooperation effort by the region’s European Union partners not gaining the impact and visibility that it deserves at the country level.

13. And so, it is with enthusiasm and a sense of expectation that I welcome your involvement in this Committee and in the selection process. Directly it engages the expertise of senior and experienced officials of the region like you. I believe also that it will serve to demonstrate your support to the RAO in determining a short list of high priority concept notes that you feel are best for the people of this region as a whole. Certainly, I hope as an outcome of this meeting that members of this Committee will have gained sufficient information and be empowered and motivated with a real sense of ownership of projects and their implementation.

14. Our joint task at this meeting is therefore to determine a priority list of concept notes that can go forward to the EC for funding consideration. I greatly look forward to your discussions and to hearing your views. Your selection should be guided principally by the objectives and mandate principles of the Regional Strategy and Indicative Programme (RSP/RIP), the Pacific Plan and relevant Forum Communiqués since 2005. I am sure all of you would have work responsibilities and familiarities with all these. With an eye to the practicalities, my own feeling is that I will be satisfied if three or four projects can go forward for funding consideration in 2009, with others tagged for further development and submission in 2010 or 2011.

15. As it may assist your deliberations, allow me to voice some personal perspectives. While the majority of concept notes submitted have complied with the minimum requirements of the guidelines, I must say that I am concerned to note that the one which relates to the region’s commitment to liberalising trade and moving forward the current trade agreements between the Forum members countries – PICTA and PACER and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Pacific ACP countries and the EU - has been considered poorly prepared and needing more work.

16. I was also hoping to see a very good concept note submitted for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, one of the region’s highest priorities. Instead I see two projects from two CROP organisations which appear to be competing. In this instance the Consultant recommends these to be combined into a single focused energy security project.

17. I feel obliged to say that the Committee might wish to give serious consideration to including in its final outcome concept notes that are not only excellent but also covering as much as possible the range of high priority issues agreed in the Regional Indicative Programme.

18. Let me also emphasise at this juncture that the Committee’s decision is final only in so far as the Pacific ACP states are concerned and therefore not necessarily binding on the European Commission. Following this meeting the EC Delegation and my staff will consider your recommendations in detail and proceed to the next stage of project formulation. It may well be that as we go forward further appraisal of a specialist technical nature would be required. Ultimately, however, the final approval rests with the EDF Committee in Brussels. In this respect, the Committee is fortunate that Ambassador van der Goot is with us. I am sure he will be able to assist the Committee in every way possible in support of our work today.

19. As I come to the closure of my remarks, I should underscore the urgency of our work and the tight deadlines ahead of us. The time schedule and constraints we have for 2009 are as follows:

• 27 February 2009 has been set as the deadline for submission of project proposals as Identification Fiches by the RAO to EC Delegation in Suva; and
• 29 May 2009 ahs been set as the deadline for submission of full project proposals.

20. Before closing I want to introduce:

Mr. Teriba Tabe – the Acting Senior Technical Adviser to the RAO, in fact the only functioning professional in the Technical Assistance office, and my mentor on this subject matter; and

Dr Russell Howorth – the Consultant, who will be known to many of you in his several distinguished advisory roles in the region and more recently as Deputy Director of SOPAC.

21. Ladies and gentlemen, I look forward to working with you today and being of assistance in helping the Committee in its decisions for the benefit of the peoples of the Pacific.

Thank you.
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