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Presentation at the PINA/PIFS Forum Regional Media Workshop by Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)/Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
Forum Regional Media Workshop
Koror, Palau
26th July 2014
Presentation by Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General, on Issues for the
45th Pacific Islands Forum

H.E. President Tommy Remengesau, President of Republic of Palau
Distinguished guests
Local media and journalists from around the region

Introduction
1. This Regional Media workshop has become a regular feature in the calendar
of events leading up to the Forum Leaders meeting. We in the Secretariat consider
it a very important event.

2. I want to thank Mr President and his Government for hosting the workshop,
as I do PINA for the preparations. Let me also acknowledge the financial support
from the Government of Australia for the workshop.

3. I understand that apart from media professionals from Palau, there are eight
journalists attending from Fiji, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon
Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. Over the coming days I think there will also be
journalists from around the region, including from Australia, New Zealand, and
Pacific-based media from China and Japan.

4. This 45th meeting of Forum Leaders occurs at an important moment in the
history and development of member countries, and the decisions they will make
are likely to have far-reaching consequences for the region. The presence of media
representatives to capture the decisions of Leaders and to discharge their
responsibility of reporting on the outcomes of the Leaders meeting is therefore of
equal significance and welcomed by the Secretariat.

Theme for 45th Pacific Islands Forum
5. We thank and congratulate the Government of Palau for the theme of the
45th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting: The Ocean: Life and Future. It is a
theme which draws on the region’s commitment and efforts to sustainably develop,
manage and conserve the oceans and its resources for our current needs and those
of future generations.

6. The theme will also be the subject of a Leaders’ Declaration on Oceans,
which will help to guide regional positions heading into the 3rd UN International
Conference on Small Island Developing States, to be held in Samoa in September.

7. The Declaration is in draft form and being developed, and of course to be
approved by Leaders, but I think it can be said that it would recognise the
fundamental role that the ocean plays in all aspects of the lives of Pacific
communities, in their culture and traditions, to economic development, food
security, tourism and in a host of other ways. Indeed, the region has been
characterised as of ‘large ocean island states’.

Events for the 45th Pacific Islands Forum
8. As workshop participants will know, the Forum is a series of meetings and
events involving Leaders, associate Forum members and observers, and Post-
Forum Dialogue Partners.

9. Let me turn briefly to the key events, and then to outlining some of the
issues on the Leaders’ agenda for their retreat.

10. The first official meeting - the Smaller Island States or SIS Leaders meeting
will be held on Tuesday. This is the grouping of seven of the smallest and most
vulnerable states in the Forum family, namely, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall
Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau and Tuvalu. The meeting will be an opportunity for
SIS Leaders to canvas issues and challenges unique to SIS circumstances like their
disadvantaged situation in development terms and exposure and vulnerability to
global economic and environmental forces, in particular climate change and
climate-related consequences and disasters.

11. The SIS Leaders meeting will be followed by the formal opening ceremony
of the Pacific Islands Forum on Tuesday afternoon.

12. The Leaders’ plenary session, with statements by Associate Members − New
Caledonia and French Polynesia − and Forum Observers, will be held on
Wednesday.

13. On Thursday, Leaders will travel to Peleliu State for their private retreat
session. The Leaders’ retreat is attended by Forum Leaders only or persons in their
place with special envoy status. The Leaders retreat is the most important meeting
of the week, as it is the opportunity for Leaders to discuss among themselves, and
in an informal setting, the major issues and to come to their conclusions and
decisions. The retreat will be followed by a press conference open to all media
representatives.

14. The final official meeting will be the Post-Forum Dialogue Partners meeting
or the PFD, to be held on Friday. The PFD will be attended by Leaders or their
representatives and representatives of the 15 development partners of the Forum.
The Post-Forum Dialogue will be an opportunity to discuss with development
partners how the partners can support the region through sustainable and durable
partnerships.

15. Those are the main events. Let me then quickly outline the key issues on the
Leaders’ agenda – outline, because senior Secretariat officers will be providing
more detail on each of these issues in the course of the workshop.

Framework for Pacific Regionalism
16. As many of you will know, the eminent person, Sir Mekere Morauta, a
former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and his team undertook a
comprehensive study and review of the Pacific Plan last year. A key
recommendation of that review was that the Pacific Plan should be re-cast as the
Framework for Pacific Regionalism.

17. This Framework is intended to strengthen and revitalise the agenda for
regional cooperation and integration by putting in place a robust and inclusive
system for setting priorities in regional initiatives.

18. A draft Framework has been prepared and will be placed before Leaders in
Palau for final approval. The draft Framework has been the subject of extensive
consultation with member countries and other key stakeholders. It is a concise
statement of the Leaders’ vision for the region, shared values, principles and an
approach to priority setting.

19. The objective, and expectation, is that the Framework will support a more
effective approach for the region to work together and in more integrated fashion.
However, we need to recognise that there is much more work to be done.

Fiji
20. Fiji will be high on the Leaders agenda. Last year, Leaders decided to revisit
the situation after free and fair election in September. The desired outcome
would be the lifting of the suspension of Fiji’s participation in Forum meetings and
other activities, and full engagement and normalisation of the situation.

21. I should emphasise that the suspension related only to participation in Forum
meetings and activities, and thus that Fiji is and had always remained a member of
the Pacific Islands Forum. It is important to be clear on this, as I think there has
been substantial confusion in the media on this aspect.

Forum Compact
22. Leaders will also consider on-going work on the strengthening of
development effectiveness coordination in the Pacific. This work is being
implemented under the Forum Compact, as endorsed by Leaders in 2009. The
results have been most positive and a real success story for the region.

23. Forum island countries and development partners learning from each other
to strengthen government systems to better budget, plan and implement services to
their people, and to accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

24. In Palau Leaders will be considering two major tracking reports, one on the
achievement of the MDGs and the other on development effectiveness efforts in
the region.

SIDS conference
25. As I mentioned earlier, Leaders will also be discussing regional positions
heading into the 3rd UN Conference on Small Island Developing States, to be held
in Samoa in early September.

26. This Conference will bring global attention to the whole array of issues
confronting small island states in the Pacific and around the world, including
vulnerability to climate change and ongoing dependencies on external development
support and assistance.

Other issues
27. In addition to the oceans, which I have mentioned, Leaders will also discuss
regional security issues, including concerns with organised international and
cross-border crime
.

28. I would also expect that Leaders will consider the very serious crisis of Non-
Communicable Diseases
the effects of which on Pacific communities are yet to be
fully assessed and appreciated at to their devastating social and economic costs.

29. Another key decision for Leaders will be the selection of the next Secretary
General
of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Conclusion
30. So, I would encourage those attending this workshop to make the most of
this opportunity to deepen your understanding of the issues and to discuss these
issues which are important on the regional agenda with delegates of this meeting
and other meetings that will be held over the course of the coming week.

31. You all have a critical role to play to help the wider Pacific region and our
communities understand how the decisions made in Palau this week will influence
their lives now, and into the future through sharing and communicating stories with
them.

32. Thank you and I wish you all the very best for a productive workshop.

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