2011 important year for Pacific Islands Forum

The celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Pacific Islands Forum this year recognise the wisdom of the region’s founding Leaders who had the vision for regionalism.

In his opening remarks at the Forum Officials Committee (FOC) Pre-Forum Session which got underway at the Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji today, Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade said:

“This is an important year for us all and our celebrations recognise the wisdom of our founding Leaders of newly independent states who had the vision and foresight to seek out strength in numbers through regionalism.”

“We have come a long way since the naissance of this premier political grouping of our region’s member states.

“We have had many successes and met numerous challenges. In reflecting on the path travelled thus far, this year provides an opportunity to celebrate the region’s development to date and to reflect on the future of the region and the various challenges it faces as it moves forward,” Mr Slade said.

Forum Secretary General Mr Slade told the Senior Forum Officials attending the meeting that “As the governing body of the Leaders’ secretariat, you have an important role to play in ensuring that the Secretariat is provided with appropriate guidance and resourced to implement the vision of the Leaders, for a region that through regionalism, is peaceful, harmonious, secure and economically prosperous.”

Mr Slade said the Forum Secretariat intends to strengthen its policy leadership, coordination role and its corporate functions as it responds to the challenges facing its membership.

“We acknowledge the need for the continuing support of our member countries, the agencies of the Council of Regional Organisations for the Pacific (CROP), the region’s development partners and other stakeholders.”

During his opening remarks, Mr Slade highlighted some of the challenges facing the region including the effect of the global economic crisis, impact of climate change, regional security issues, and trade issues.

The two-day FOC Pre-Forum session is to discuss issues relating to regional security, Secretariat strategic, staffing and financial issues, issues to be referred to the upcoming Forum Leaders’ meeting and Forum Country Initiatives.

The outcomes of the meeting will be submitted to the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, 6 – 9 September.

The FOC Pre-Forum session is also attended by Forum Associate Members and Observers as well as representatives of the CROP agencies.

ENDS.

For media queries contact Mr Johnson Honimae, the Forum Secretariat’s Media Officer on phone 679 3220303, email: johnsonh@forumsec.or.fj or Ms Mue Bentley Fisher, the Forum Secretariat’s Communications Officer on phone 679 3312600 or email: mueb@forumsec.org.fj