Opening remarks by SG Tuiloma Neroni Slade at 2011 SIS Officials meeting


Opening Remarks by Secretary-General, Tuiloma Neroni Slade at the 2011 Smaller Island States Officials Meeting

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
Suva, Fiji
15 August 2011



Distinguished Delegates
Heads of CROP and CROP representatives
Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me extend to you all a very warm welcome to Suva, Fiji and to your Secretariat Headquarters. Moreover, I welcome you to the annual meeting of Smaller Island States (SIS) Officials, a meeting convened in anticipation of the PPAC and the FOC meetings to follow this meeting and in preparation for the annual meeting of SIS Leaders that will precede the Forum Leaders meeting in the first week of next month.

2. Colleagues, it is always a pleasure and privilege to address and to service this important meeting. The SIS grouping, within the broader Forum membership has long been acknowledged as one that warrants special care and consideration in addressing the special and unique interests of your countries. Your agenda has been developed and structured with that mind.

3. Today’s SIS Officials Meeting will precede the PPAC and FOC discussions. It is my hope, that in sequencing your meeting this way, you will have the opportunity to consider the issues that warrant your collective consideration, and no doubt you would wish to strategise and agree on collective positions on those issues to guide your discussions at PPAC and FOC.

4. We have before us today a substantive meeting agenda. This was developed in consultation with you and designed to capture the ongoing and emerging issues of special interests to the SIS grouping.

5. Climate change remains a central issue in our development pursuits. Since Copenhagen and Cancun and the resulting pledges of increased climate resourcing, the region has undertaken to consider the most appropriate options, to better equip Forum countries to access, and have in place robust mechanisms to effectively manage the flow and utilisation of these resources.

6. This has been complemented by ongoing efforts to strengthen development coordination and to continue the good work being done in the entire SIS, to strengthen national systems and bring clarity to where development resources are most needed and best used.

7. Of note, has been the commitment shown by the SIS in the implementation of the Forum Compact for strengthening development coordination. Since its adoption in 2009 four SIS (Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Niue) have engaged in peer reviews and all SIS have provided self assessments on the status of their national planning, budgeting and aid coordination . Two SIS (Nauru, Kiribati) have gone further in the peer review process and have put into action, recommendations from their peer review reports.

8. These are strong signals, that the SIS takes seriously the lead role of governments in determining their own development agenda and ensuring that their capacity to do so is backed by strong national performance and accountability systems.

9. The Forum’s work on the Compact is already providing a significant body of evidence to shape a regional position which we believe could influence outcomes and negotiations at the upcoming Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea. Your Secretariat has committed to ensuring the region is well prepared and is given every opportunity to engage in the preparatory meetings and at the High level Forum itself, to negotiate and redefine the global development cooperation agenda. I look forward to your deliberations on that item in the agenda.

10. The Pacific Plan remains a major focus in our Secretariat efforts and the master strategy for strengthening regional cooperation and integration. We judge that good progress is being made across the five main themes adopted by Leaders in 2009. To complement efforts and to measure the result of effort against achievements, the Secretariat is beginning to develop a performance framework for the Pacific Plan that essentially draws on the accountabilities and performance targets within the existing regional institutional architecture.

11. Necessarily, the efforts and pursuits for development and the attention to pressing needs and priorities will continue to put pressure on limited resources and capacities. Yet, these are endeavours that will also provide that leverages for a more sustainable livelihood for people of the region and more so the citizens of the SIS, and, with success, will help provide antidote against the vulnerabilities of communities.

12. I am sure I speak for all CROP agencies in saying that we all stand ready to do what we can to ensure that SIS countries derive maximum benefits from regional programmes, to complement and supplement your national planning frameworks and processes in pursuing your national development objectives and goals.

13. The SIS Unit of the Secretariat remains dedicated to this end. As agreed by FOC, we have increased its operations budget and this has been supplemented by generous contributions from our development partners.

14. An integral part of the SIS Unit, of course, is the placement of SIS Desk Officers in member countries. This has strengthened the Secretariat’s presence and engagement at the national level and we are also intending to review their terms of reference to enhance the contribution they provide and the key role they play in facilitating our engagement with you. We will continue to support these positions and endeavour to provide them with adequate resources to allow them to assist and contribute to your national needs and efforts.

15. Since your last meeting we have managed to fill most if not all the SIS Desk Officer positions. The country officers are all present here today and throughout the week, and I’m sure the opportunity and exposure will enhance their appreciation and knowledge of the broader regional issues.

16. As is required of me and in accordance with your decisions to rotate alphabetically the Chair of the SIS Officials meeting, and also acknowledging the stewardship of Niue as Chair of the 2010 SIS Officials meeting, I would like, on your behalf, to invite Palau to assume the seat of Chair of the 2011 SIS Officials meeting.

Thank you


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