Opening remarls by SG Tuiloma Neroni Slade at the 2012 SIS Officials meeting

Opening Remarks by Secretary-General, Tuiloma Neroni Slade at the 2012 Smaller Island States Officials Meeting

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
Suva, Fiji
30 July 2012


Distinguished Delegates
Heads of CROP and CROP representatives
Forum’s Associate members and Observers

Allow me to extend to you all a very warm welcome to your Secretariat Headquarters and to the Smaller Island States (SIS) Officials Meeting today.

2. This meeting is the first of a series of Forum officials meetings that will seek to lay the foundation for our Leaders deliberations in the Cook Islands next month. You play a pivotal role in the decisions on issues and the articulation of recommendations to ensure our Leaders are well informed of the issues specific and important to SIS.

3. This meeting occurs at a time when the global development community seeks for itself how it will stand up to the development challenges post 2015. It is also a time when the world has reaffirmed for itself the centrality of sustainable development and the need to bring closer together its multi-dimensional nature. The affirmation of sustainable development at the RIO+20 conference reinforces our Leaders’ Vision in the Pacific Plan. Of particular importance to this meeting, is the recognition of the “special case” of Small Island Developing States which echoes our Leaders own due recognition of the special place of Smaller Island States as the most vulnerable amongst our Pacific community.

4. We have before us today a meeting agenda that was developed in consultation with you and purposely designed to capture the ongoing and emerging issues of special interests to the SIS in determining partnerships and collaborative efforts to develop potential options and solutions to address the issues.

5. The Pacific Plan remains the master strategy for strengthening regional cooperation and integration in our region. Overall, decent progress has been achieved across the five themes of the Pacific Plan. Next year there will be a review of the Pacific Plan. The review provides prospect for SIS to reassess the value of the Plan in meeting their development aspirations through regional cooperation and partnerships.
6. Furthermore, this review may provide potential opportunities to harness an SIS Strategy under the Pacific Plan with the ultimate aim of increasing focus on sub-regional cooperation and initiatives addressing the special needs of SIS. One of your agenda items addresses that specific proposition.
7. Climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of SIS. SIS Leaders emphasised the need to address the significance of current impacts of climate change on the SIS as urgent, requiring immediate resourcing and support. As you know, the CROP agencies are developing a regional technical support mechanism for SIS to effectively access and manage the expected increased flows of climate change resources. The ongoing work on climate change finance (CCF) is being undertaken in line with the Forum Compact, as part of a region-wide effort to strengthen coordination and better use of development resources.

8. In the area of development cooperation and partnerships, PIFS and CROP Agencies and development partners worked closely with SIS members to improve national and sector planning processes; trade policy frameworks; gender policies and consultations; public financial management systems; monitoring and reporting; improve coordination of development partners and following through on the findings of the respective peer reviews.

9. It is very important that SIS continue to strengthen their networking with CROP agencies to ensure that they continue to derive maximum benefits from regional programmes, to complement and supplement your national planning frameworks and processes in pursuing your national development objectives and goals.

10. The good progress being achieved with gender equality efforts in our SIS is to be welcomed. It is also encouraging to note that Nauru signed and ratified CEDAW in 2011, and Palau signed the Convention. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Governments of Nauru and Palau for this landmark commitment. In similar manner I would commend and congratulate the Government of the Republic of Marshall Islands on the passing of the Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act in 2011. It is encouraging also to note that Kiribati and Tuvalu have developed strategies on violence against women and that these have been aligned and mainstreamed into national action plans and policies.
11. The SIS Unit continues to receive the full support of the Secretariat. The SIS Development Fund programme based approach has been drafted to benefit the SIS only, with the sole purpose of attracting more development partners to pledge resources to the SIS Development Fund. A programme based approach supporting pooled funding of development partners’ resources, like the SIS Development Fund, provides the first steps towards a more mutually accountable partnership between development partners and the SIS.

12. The Desk officers continue to play an effective and integral part of the SIS Unit. This has strengthened the Secretariat’s presence and engagement at the national level and it is pleasing to see the increased recognition of their work by CROP agencies, development partners and national governments. We will continue to support these positions and endeavour to provide them with adequate resources to allow them to continue the good work they have been providing SIS countries and their communities.

13. Before I close I want to acknowledge the stewardship of Palau as Chair of the 2011 SIS Officials meeting. Due to flight cancellations from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the incoming Chair for the meeting, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ms Kino Kabua is unable to arrive on time to this meeting. We are therefore seeking an alternative arrangement. You will recall the meeting’s decision that an SIS hosting the Leaders Forum shall also assume the Chair of the SIS Leaders meeting, to be applied in confirming an alternative Chair to this year’s SIS Officials meeting. To this end I seek the endorsement of the meeting to invite the Cook Islands representative to assume the Chair for the 2012 SIS Officials Meeting.

Thank you



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