Opening remarks by SG Tuiloma Neroni Slade at opening of FOC meeting

Suva, Fiji
15 - 16 July 2010




Ladies and Gentlemen

We reconvene this morning, as the governing council of the Forum Secretariat; in the form of the Forum Officials Committee (FOC). For those of you who attended the Smaller Island States Officials Committee meeting on Monday, this is your third meeting this week. For the rest of you, this is your second of a substantive series of very key regional meetings.

2. The week has been a long and intense, and you have had to consider a large range of issues in different contexts – as SIS officials, as PPAC members, and now as the governors of the Secretariat.

3. But these are all necessary permutations to prepare for the series of Leaders’ when they gather in Port Vila, next month. May I thank and commend you for the commitment that is evident in your engagement and attention.

4. Our work in the last two days, testifies to the enormity of the challenges the Forum countries must address in pursuing the development aspirations of the region and the quest for improving the lives of their people. The global financial economic crises, with the associated high cost of fuel and food; and the manifestations of climate change are additional and serious burdens.

5. Not one single country has been spared, and not one can possibly manage to deal with these massive impacts alone. Pacific island countries must work cooperatively and collaboratively, to pool limited resources and together to develop collective responses to address common developmental challenges.

6. And it is the Pacific Plan, which provides the framework, to enable and to facilitate the deepening of regional cooperation and integration.

7. Allow me here to register the Secretariat’s thankful appreciation and tribute to member Governments and to all regional organisations for their work and support in the implementation of the Pacific Plan.

8. The Forum will celebrate its 40th birthday next year. And we are in the process of launching activities to commemorate that milestone. 40 years is good vintage. But the value of the Forum and its Secretariat cannot be judged alone by how long it has been around; but, rather, by what difference the Forum has made to the welfare and lives of the people of the region .

9. As part of the anniversary celebrations next year, we are hoping to take stock of the achievements and to reflect on some of the lessons learnt over the years to guide the way forward to ensure the continued relevance of the Forum as the premier political regional organisation.

10. The agenda for this FOC meeting will be part of that stock take, as we seek to reflect on the current and future directions of the Secretariat as they are articulated in our Corporate Plan and the Programme Strategic Plans.

11. The year 2010 coincides with the midterm review and refresh of the Forum Secretariat’s 2008-2012 Corporate Plan; and with the midterm review and refresh for the four 2009-2011 Programme Strategic Plans.

12. For the midterm review of the Corporate Plan and the four Programme Strategic Plans, we do not intend to substantially overhaul them as they, generally, remain relevant. But like all multiyear planning documents, they need to be fine-tuned to cater for developments that have emerged subsequent to their adoption that were not envisaged or contemplated at the time.

13. You will be provided with the opportunity at this meeting to make some assessment and validate, or otherwise, the proposed revisions by the Secretariat to those planning documents.

14. The Programme Strategic Plans will lapse at the end of next year and are therefore soon due for renewal. We have taken advantage of this FOC meeting to initiate the consultative process to develop their successors. We have prepared for you, some initial thinking for your consideration and we are seeking your guidance so we can build on this thinking. The schedule for developing the 2012-2014 Programme Strategic Plans will involve further consultation with Members and other stakeholders, before we present them to FOC at your meeting next year for final consideration and endorsement.

15. The Secretariat in approaching the Forum’s 40th anniversary, also needs to take stock of its resources and capacity to deliver on the strategic direction provided by its Members and the regional developmental priorities as set by the annual Leaders’ meetings.

16. These are, of course, difficult times for all Members especially the Pacific island countries

17. But regional organisations like the Forum Secretariat must have a sustainable resource base in order to provide certainty in its planning and predictability in what resources will be available to it to pursue and deliver its core functions as prescribed by you, our Members and governing council.

18. In this FOC meeting, we will be presenting two reports which seek to address the financial resource base for the Secretariat. Here I refer to the report that you will receive from the FOC-Subcommittee on Membership Contributions and the paper entitled “Pathway to Closing the Funding Gap”.

19. With the institutional and organisational strengthening instituted, with the resources provided and with the support and guidance of this Committee, your Secretariat is ready and capable to manage its house and affairs and to continue contributing to the service of the region well beyond of 40 years of the Forum.

20. Mr Chairman, with the changing of the guard may I on behalf of us all express to you our warm thanks and appreciation for your stewardship of the Committee.

21. I thank you for your kind attention.



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