Hiri Declaration - Strengthening Connections To Enhance Pacific Regionalism

We, the Heads of States and Governments of the Pacific Islands Forum Member Countries, having met in Port Moresby for the Forty-Sixth Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting;

1. Acknowledge the rich historical and cultural heritage that the People of the Pacific were engaged in, particularly extensive barter networks and the protection and utilization of our Ocean and its resources, especially fisheries. Further acknowledge that these traditional and cultural trading networks provided sustenance and brought together our People;

2. Pay homage to our ancestors for setting the legacy, cultural and traditional networks, and note the various trading and social interactions including the Lapita culture, the Hiri and Rai trading systems in the Pacific region and similar interactions and exchanges by the indigenous peoples of Australia and New Zealand;

3. Recognize that these interactions and exchanges created our identity, promoted cooperation and integration at people-to-people level, improved trading and barter systems, encouraged transfer of traditional knowledge, skills and values and taught us the importance of strong connections and cooperation among the People of the Forum Member Countries;

4. Acknowledge the importance of the establishment of the Forum as the paramount regional organization that promotes cooperation and integration of governance and alignment of polices in order to further Forum members’ shared goals of economic growth, sustainable development and security;

5. Recall

a. Past Declarations of Forum Leaders that reaffirm the importance of business, trade and investment, sustainable development and management of oceans and resources, gender equality, and the continuous need to address the adverse impacts of climate change, and the security and health needs of the region;

b. The SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (S.A.M.O.A) Pathway, which was adopted by the 3rd United Nations International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa in September 2014, as part of the regional cooperation and collaboration on sustainable development issues.

6. Acknowledge the efforts and success of the Forum in the following areas:
- Advancing Pacific issues and concerns at global fora;
- Decolonization and self government;
- Advocacy for cessation of nuclear testing;
- Good governance and security issues;
- Responsible and sustainable fisheries and environment management practices;

7. Refer in this regard to the vision of the 2005 Madang Leaders Retreat that endorsed the Pacific Plan which initially set the direction for issues of common concern and challenges to be progressed and addressed;

8. Reiterate the importance of the 2013 Review of the Pacific Plan that sets the foundation and commitment to implement the Framework for Pacific Regionalism;

9. Draw attention to the common regional challenges including climate change, disaster risk management, food security, trans-national crime, transportation, maritime surveillance, cyber security, remoteness, susceptibility to external forces, capacity constraints and health issues; and

10. Call for a unified approach and increased effort to address these common regional challenges;

DECLARE to take effective and meaningful actions to address and implement regional connectivity in three core areas, namely, people to people, institutional and physical connectivity:

People To People Connectivity

Recognizing that our People are our most important asset;

11. Encourage and strengthen our linkages and common aspirations through enhanced:

a. Political dialogue and interactions at all levels;
b. Economic, trade, business and investment arrangements including labour mobility and reduction of trade barriers;
c. Social, cultural, religious and sporting activities and exchange programmes; and
d. Gender, youth and disability awareness programmes.

Institutional Connectivity

Recognizing the crucial roles played by institutions in enhancing regional connectivity:

12. Note that good governance, economic development and social inclusiveness, human rights, security, environment management and conservation measures, climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Forum Member Countries are driven by various state and regional institutions, civil society and faith-based organizations and the private sector;

13. Encourage synergy amongst all the national, regional and development partner institutions and organizations to implement effective and cohesive programmes;

Physical Connectivity

Recognizing our Ocean as the bridge that links our peoples:

14. Note that strong social and economic infrastructure achieves economic integration for the Pacific region and is central to mobility and well being of people and business which enhances connectivity;

15. Acknowledge that reliable and safe air and shipping services are essential mechanisms in enhancing connectivity, particularly for movement of goods and services and labour across borders to conduct businesses, promote trade, fisheries, investment and tourism opportunities and improve accessibility to services;

16. Recognize the need to enhance and strengthen border and security policies and infrastructure to facilitate movement of professionals and business people to conduct their business towards achieving the broader goals for economic integration;

17. Recognize that our shared quest for greater energy security and energy accessibility for all is vital to promote connectivity;

18. Recognize that Information Communication Technologies (ICT) contribute to the ease and reduction of cost of conducting business across the borders and enable faster dissemination of information and delivery of services; and

Reaffirm that the development of economic infrastructures are vital elements to facilitate economic growth and integration nationally, regionally and globally.

19. Highlighting the political, security, economic and social benefits that can be derived from people to people, institutional and physical connectivity;


20. Hereby commit ourselves to the pursuit of the goal of strengthening connections to enhance Pacific regionalism for all, that increases our people to people relations, improves institutional governance; and enhances our physical connectivity wherein we can chart our own destiny for a better Pacific by:

a. Encouraging inter-sessional political dialogue to discuss issues of mutual interests;

b. Facilitating greater movement of people and secure business flows between members through supportive visa, trade and investment policies;

c. Strengthening linkages between member governments, civil societies and the private sector on common development opportunities and challenges through relevant enabling policy interventions;

d. Reviewing existing institutional structures and arrangements to improve linkages of programmes and activities to ensure maximised utilization of resources;

e. Improving the Post Forum Dialogue format.

f. Fostering Public Private Partnerships through inclusive dialogue such as business to business, creation and enhancing the competitiveness of micro and small to medium enterprises, and improvement of all ICT related infrastructure and services;

g. Creating an environment that is conducive for business, trade and investment, economic growth and sustainable development to prosper;

h. Calling for collective action to implement the Regional Road Map for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries;

i. Encouraging transparent and responsible media coverage that promotes the interests of the region;

j. Undertaking feasibility studies on the economic viability of intra-regional shipping and air services arrangements;

k. Encouraging Research and Development on regional issues; and

l. Encouraging mutual recognition of qualifications and more liberal employment opportunities;

21. Hereby pledge to strengthen connections to enhance Pacific regionalism through:

a. Implementing core policy frameworks to encourage greater regional economic integration;

b. Building good economic and social infrastructure to facilitate the ease of doing business and movement of people across borders; and

c. Sharing of knowledge, skills, preservation and promotion of our traditional and cultural values and sporting activities.

d. Calling for greater ambition and commitment at the national, regional and international level to enable our nations to respond to emerging opportunities, issues and challenges; and

e. Calling on our international partners to align their development cooperation plans with our national priorities and regional integration and cooperation frameworks.

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
10 September 2015

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