Opening remarks by SG Tuiloma Neroni at SIS Officials meeting

Opening remarks by Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat at the Smaller Islands States Officials Meeting, 12th July, Suva, Fiji.

Distinguished Delegates
Representatives of CROP agencies
Ladies and Gentlemen



1. May I convene this meeting and call it to order.

2. Let me, first of all, on behalf of the Secretariat Executive and Staffs extend to you all a very warm welcome to your Secretariat headquarters and to the series of meetings this week. This meeting of yours, the SIS Officials meeting, is the first of three meetings of Officials this week. All of these meetings are in preparation for the upcoming Forum Leaders meeting next month in Port Vila Vanuatu.

3. Your meeting, of course, is to prepare the agenda and issues for the SIS Leaders meeting that precede the main Forum Leaders meeting.

4. You would recall, that I observed in my opening statement to your meeting last year of the strategic timing and importance of having your meeting before the PPAC and FOC. This meeting provides you with an excellent opportunity to caucus amongst yourselves, in order to identify issues of special interest to SIS from the agenda of PPAC and FOC and seek to arrive at some common position or platform that you can collectively use as the basis of your discussions in PPAC and FOC.

5. These meetings are all about being strategic in your negotiations. Being the smallest of the Forum members, your special interests have long been acknowledged and only by working together as a caucus on issues that affect your special interests, would it enhance your chances of safeguarding those interests.

6. The meeting agenda like in the past was drawn from ongoing issues of special interest to SIS as prescribed by the SIS Leaders and those that the Secretariat anticipated will attract interest of the SIS and may warrant some joint SIS perspectives.

7. The challenges on developing island countries of the Forum have become very acute as manifested through the impacts of the recent global financial and economic crises and the high fuel and food costs. They are further aggravated by the indiscriminate and wide ranging adverse impacts of climate change, in particular on the SIS.

8. Climate change, therefore remain and will do so for a long time, a very top priority for the SIS. In that context, your agenda today reflects the serious attention that SIS need to give to climate change. We have clustered together several related issues under the agenda item 7 of climate change and I am grateful to my colleagues from the other CROP agencies that are also present today to assist facilitate your discussions of those issues.

9. There was a lot of excitement leading up to Copenhagen last year, and disappointment at Copenhagen but that is behind us now. You need to focus your attention on the way forward to the next UNFCCC-COP16 meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

10. At the regional level, the anticipation of increased new funding resources to support climate change efforts, demands a more coordinated framework to mange, disburse and monitor its utilization. This can only be achieved through clear guidance from Forum countries, but more so from SIS, who stand to gain most from these development efforts.

11. Issues of transportation, labour mobility, energy including bulk procurement and renewable energy continue to be high priorities for the SIS. Over the last year, emerging and cross cutting issues such as Food Security, Gender and Disabilities continue to add new dimensions to the challenges that SIS encountered as part of their development. They also demonstrated the inability of SIS countries to address those issues on their own, and thus the need for regional and sub-regional responses which calls for the effective coordination of limited development resources to address these issues.

12. I would 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, your own national development efforts. In doing so, I emphasize strongly the importance of coordinating our approaches and building on the strengths and comparative advantages of existing processes and regional mechanisms.

13. In this context, I draw your attention to our Pacific Principles of Aid Effectiveness and their operationalisation through the processes under the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination. You will receive an update on progress in the implementation of that new Development Compact for the Pacific today and a much fuller update during PPAC tomorrow.

14. But I want to publicly acknowledge my appreciation for two of the SIS members who volunteered to be part of the first peer review exercise under the Cairns Compact. I refer here to the governments of Nauru and Kiribati as being the first two countries to undertake the Peer Review process. In the same vein, I would also like to acknowledge the governments of Tuvalu, the Cook Islands and Niue for submitting your country reports on the status of your national development plans. Out of the 8 countries that provided reports on their national planning processes, 5 were SIS members. I understand assistance has been sought by the Republic of the Marshall Islands to assist them with their reporting against the Compact deliverables.

15. I must add and with much satisfaction, that without the constructive efforts of the SIS in the implementation of the Cairns Compact deliverables, we may not have been in a position to report back to our Leaders on the positive progress made on the Cairns Compact.

16. The role and placement of SIS Desk Officers in country has strengthened the Secretariat’s presence and engagement at the national level. They are key positions in facilitating our engagement with you and I would like that to continue and to strengthen their roles. Together with the SIS Programme Officer, the SIS Unit should function reasonably well in support of the SIS member and their development aspirations.

17. My pleasure to present the new SIS Programme Officer, Mr Fakavae Taomia.

18. As agreed at your last meeting to rotate the Chair of this meeting by alphabetical order, may I now invite Niue, represented by Mr Richard Hipa to take over the Chair of the 2010 SIS Officials meeting

Thank you


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