SG Slade's Remarks at the Pacific Island Countries/Development Partners Meeting, Suva, Fiji



Pacific Island Countries/Development Partners Meeting

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

25 - 26 June 2013

Excellencies, High Commissioners and Ambassadors and Senior Officials from member countries,

Representatives of regional and international organisations

Representatives of Development Partners and Donors

Representatives of civil society organisations

With much pleasure I extend to you all a very warm welcome.  Welcome to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and to the 2013 Pacific Island Countries and Development Partners (PIC-Partners) meeting. 

2. A special word of welcome to those who may be joining us for the first time, like the distinguished representative from the Government of Brazil.  Your presence here today, all of you, signals your interest in the affairs of the region and commitment to engage, and these are warmly acknowledged and appreciated.

3. This meeting has become one of considerable importance and a key feature in the calendar of annual Secretariat meetings, for it represents the reaffirmation of engagement and commitment to the maintenance of effective and sustainable partnerships between Pacific Island governments and their Development Partners.

4. The meeting is a valuable opportunity for the mutual sharing of information and experiences, in particular for the presentation of Pacific perspectives on the range of key regional and global development issues and processes.  These issues are provided for in the agenda, supported by background papers, and to be presented in a manner that we hope will provide a useful and constructive basis for dialogue and discussions over the next two days.

5. The timing of this meeting is of particular significance as we begin the preparations for Forum Leaders’ meeting in September.  The plan is for an inclusive and open dialogue towards shaping clear, evidence-based advice to Forum Leaders on the necessary partnership steps for strengthened development coordination.  Therefore, in the spirit of the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation and also of the Forum Compact for Strengthening Development Coordination in the Pacific, we very much look forward to your engagement in an open and inter-active dialogue.

6. The Forum Compact remains a key driver for our Secretariat efforts.  Since 2009, the Compact has been the mainstay in driving evidence-based good practice and behaviour change.  We have seen countries exert more leadership through regular country-led policy dialogues with their development partners and directing development partners towards greater alignment behind their national and sector priorities.  Forum Island Countries and their development partners are now demonstrating strong commitment to strengthening public financial management systems.  We see active examples of this in countries like the Cook Islands, Niue and Tonga, to name a few, where public financial management reform programmes are attracting coherent development partner support.  

7. The peer review programme continues to promote the importance of peer to peer learning and knowledge exchange between countries as the basis for reform in development planning, budget and public financial management and aid management systems; and also in guiding improvements in the nature of the partnership arrangements between governments and Development Partners that are fit for purpose for Pacific governments.

8. I understand that later this year we will undertake the remaining two country peer reviews; and that this will complete the peer review of all Forum Island Countries.  This will be a considerable achievement, particularly in terms of the confidence and readiness of governments to engage in a major body of work and in efforts to implement the recommendations of the peer review reports.  Let me also say to development partners who had participated in this process that your shared experiences and insights have helped to shape the behaviour changes we are seeing today in the region.

9. I have touched on only a few of the important shifts.  Overall, the results of regional efforts, and the engagement from so many of you in the development community provide not only direction and support but more so the committed partnerships that need to underpin development.

10. Partnerships will feature prominently in this dialogue meeting.  The centrality of the partnership approach cannot be emphasised enough.  For Pacific countries, committed and effective partnership in development is simply critical.  There is mutuality about partnerships.  We need to get it right, from both perspectives - that of development partners as much as of the Pacific Island Countries.  And we all need to do much more to enhance partnership arrangements.

11. We also know that effective partnerships must build on solid platforms.  A shared understanding of the Pacific context and diverse country situations would be key drivers in fashioning a workable partnership approach.  Clarity in the articulation of development priorities at the national and regional level would be essential, with Pacific Island Countries demonstrating their commitment to achieving those development aspirations by prioritising the allocation of their own development resources in support of declared national priorities.

12. In the interests of effective partnership and reciprocity, I think it would be necessary and incumbent on development partners to properly understand the context and to align and harmonise their development assistance with clearly enunciated national development priorities.

13. The partnership approach is also an organic process and, for our region, a process that needs ongoing review and consideration.  To this end, your agenda proposes how we might effectively go about this.  The discussion on a monitoring process of our joint efforts; the opportunity to consider a peer review process for development partners and suggestions on fostering a more inclusive regional dialogue through this meeting, all aim to ultimately achieve a clarity and cohesion in our purpose and outcomes.  In particular, we need to ensure mutual accountability, to each other and to those citizens whose livelihoods we have committed to supporting.

14. As I close, let me express to all our friends and colleagues representing the development partners, the region’s sincere and warm appreciation for your demonstrated interest and commitment by your presence today in such good numbers and your readiness to dialogue with the Pacific Island Countries.  Let me also acknowledge with appreciation the cooperation and essential support of our CROP or Pacific regional organisations and colleagues in our joint efforts.

15. I wish you all well in your deliberations.

Thank you.



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