SG Tuiloma Neroni Slade opening remarks at Cairns Compact workshop

21-24 February 2011
Nadi, FIJI

Forum Secretary General



Distinguished representatives of Forum island countries;
Distinguished representatives of Development Partners;
Fellow colleagues from CROP agencies and International agencies;
Forum Secretariat staffs.

1. It is a pleasure to be with you at the start of this the Cairns Compact Regional Workshop on Strengthening Development Coordination, and to be able to offer some opening remarks.

2. I must say it is with double pleasure that I acknowledge with appreciation such a large number of participants, especially with the attendance of so many senior officials from member Governments of the Forum and also from development partners.

3. So, on behalf of the Deputy Secretary General and staff of the Secretariat, I extend to you all the warmest of welcome. Welcome in particular to those of you who have travelled from abroad.

4. This gathering is one of very great importance. I recall that the first such regional workshop took place soon after the adoption of the Cairns Compact. Some of you were at that workshop towards the end of 2009. Much has been achieved since then. We reported to Forum Leaders at their annual meeting last year, on the key deliverables of the Compact in its first year of implementation. But more work is required to build on what has been achieved. I hope, indeed I expect, that this workshop will provide more informed guidance and direction to the Secretariat in managing our collective efforts in the further implementation of the Compact for Strengthening Development Coordination.

5. We need to pay particular attention to the acceleration of MDG performance. We have until 20115 to go. Not a lot of time. Your Secretariat needs from you guidance on a clear and coordinated pathway forward: in identifying, resourcing and monitoring of priority actions in improving development coordination; in improving our reporting approaches through more streamlined efforts; and in reinforcing focus on the Leaders global commitment to achieving the MDGs. As I say, we have only until 2015 to do all this.

6. The Secretariat is also taking advantage of this workshop to consult broadly on the two specific tasks mandated by the Forum Economic Ministers. The first is the directive from Ministers for the development of an Options Paper setting out options to effectively address issues of accessibility and management of climate change financing. The second is the need to define the role of Economic Ministers in strengthening development coordination and providing leadership, generally and more particularly in respect of the Compact for Strengthening Development Coordination.

7. As you will hear from the workshop presentations, the experience of the first year of the Compact has provided pertinent and very useful insights to the state of development outcomes and coordination in the region.

8. Progress reports indicate, for example, that while efforts to enhance development coordination are accorded high priority, attention is still required to address identifiable gaps. Forum Leaders in their own assessment are calling for more targeted and streamlined action and results that are country led and coordinated, resourced and time bound. This is foundational work, and the essence of regional endeavours, if we are to achieve accelerated progress in actual fact and every Pacific island country is able to point to measurable achievements in development outcomes, especially with the Millennium Development Goals.

9. The results from the first round of Cairns Compact reporting also suggest that efforts to improve development outcomes have been slow and uneven. The impacts climate change, which are already evident and serious, the fragmentation and unpredictability of aid, and the weak links between country priorities and sector implementation and budgets, are just some of the key issues that compound the state of vulnerability of Pacific island countries, and the difficulties they face in accelerating MDG progress.

10. Let me also say that the message of the peer reviews and country reporting on national plans seems to confirm as an immediate first step the need for more regular dialogue between development partners and Pacific island countries, so as to give practical utility and resourcing to the recommendations emanating from those processes.

11. Further, I would mention that the region now has a Road Map for strengthening public financial management systems which builds on existing public financial management assessment tools and which calls for increased regularity of these assessments and scaled-up efforts from development partners to support recommendations of those assessments.

12. I understand that the extent to which development partners align their efforts with good practice and principles of aid effectiveness, espoused in the Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda for Action and our own Pacific Principles on Aid Effectiveness is now being scrutinised to levels not experienced before in the region.

13. As you work through the workshop this week you must not lose sight of the central aim of the Cairns Compact, which is to lift the economic and development performance of the region through more effective coordination of available development resources, and in order to ensure the achievement of real progress against the MDGs. With all that needs to be done, we need to do it by the target date of 2015.

14. Forum Leaders in their consideration of the 2010 Pacific Regional MDGs Tracking Report, adopted the Port Vila Declaration on Accelerating Progress of the Achievement of the MDGs. The Declaration calls for the stepping-up of the region’s efforts in more targeted support to localising the MDGs into national and regional plans, and to prioritise budgets, to mainstream and advocate for the special needs of Small Island Developing States through the use of international platforms such as the Barbados Programme of Action and its Mauritius Strategy for Implementation, and to support the achievement of the MDGs, drawing on the principles of the Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda for Action and the Pacific Principles on Aid Effectiveness.

15. In addition, for the first time at their meeting in Vanuatu, Forum Leaders were afforded the opportunity to directly engage in high-level dialogue with private sector representatives to consider shared opportunities and expectations of their respective contributions to the achievement of the development agenda.

16. When I reported to Leaders at their meeting last year on the implementation of the Cairns Compact, I indicated a level of satisfaction on the overall achievement in the first year of the Compact. Despite the capacity constraints within the Secretariat we were able to deliver on all the key deliverables of the Cairns Compact. And that was only achieved because of the cooperation, support and generosity of member countries and all development partners present at this workshop. I therefore take this opportunity to reiterate the Secretariat’s appreciation and gratitude to you all.

17. The Secretariat now has advisers recently engaged in the areas of the MDGs and regional planning and peer reviews. But we will continue to engage and take advantage of the comparative advantage of expertise in other regional and international organisation. In that respect we have established a Technical Working Group to drive the development of the Regional MDGs Tracking Report, as well as a Reference Group to steer our work on improving Compact reporting processes and mechanisms.

18. In your workshop programme, you will also be addressing a very important and critical aspect of the climate change issue. The recognition of the Pacific being the most vulnerable of regions to the impacts of climate change was reinforced through global funding commitments endorsed in Copenhagen in 2009. In some sense ironically, global funding in the complexities of their propose levels and access mechanisms have the potential to impose significant administrative burdens on the limited capacities of Pacific Governments, especially with respect to capacities to effectively absorb and manage the expected inflow of climate change financing resources.

19. I understand there will be a specific session to consider the process of developing the Options Paper on climate financing. Considering options to best access and manage the flow of funds is an important first step to developing the relevant modalities and structures for the effective and sustainable implementation of climate funding.

20. I think it is necessary to stress that our consideration of climate financing options is at a preliminary stage. The primary purpose is to give clarity to the scope of the Options Paper being developed by the Forum Secretariat and SPREP, and secondly, to develop an inclusive consultative process in developing the Options Paper. With viewpoints from both Forum member countries and also from our development partners, I am confident that we will come to an amicable and workable way forward.

21. Colleagues, I have already taken too much of the workshop’s time. So, let me wish you every success in the learning and enrichment of your discussions and the outcomes of the workshop.

22. Regrettably, I have been travelling on other Forum business in recent days and I need to get back to headquarters. But Deputy Secretary General Teo and other senior staff will be with you to assist as much as they can.

23. Thank you for your cooperation and for your continued support for our work.



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