I will start by welcoming you all to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat today for this very special occasion.
Ambassador Jacobs, NSA Representatives, members of the NSA Program Steering Committee and PIFS colleagues – Welcome!
It is such a pleasure to see you all here today. Each of you are here either because your organization is to receive one of the very first PIFS – NSA Grant Awards, or because you have had some role to play in the establishment of this new Grants Facility at PIFS.
Today is a very special day for us, and much anticipated by our NSA Team who have been working very hard to get to this joyful stage of presenting grant awards to Non-State Actors to support their work in the regional policy space.
Each of you have had some involvement in the NSA Program here at PIFS, so I am not going to spend too much time talking about the program itself.
But I do think it important for us all to reflect on the rationale for this program and how this relates to each of the grant awards that are to be announced and presented today.
The overarching purpose of the EU funded NSA Program “Strengthening Non-State-Actors Engagement in Regional Policy Development and Implementation” is essentially about facilitating dialogue and cooperation between NSAs and Regional bodies such as the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Over the course of the last year you will have seen plenty of evidence of the NSA Team’s work in terms of creating spaces for engagement and policy discussions. Ranging from informal monthly networking lunches, to the much more formal annual CSO engagement with Forum Leaders.
The Secretary General is a strong advocate for NSA Engagement and she remains very committed to her quarterly meeting with NSA Executives.
As Chair of the Specialist Sub-Committee for Regionalism (SSCR), the Secretary General has been very encouraged by the level of civil society engagement in the Public Policy Process set out in the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
Last year we received 18 submissions from civil society organisations, and four out of the five regional priorities selected through this process were around themes identified by CSOs.
This year the SSCR has received another 13 submissions from CSOs and a further 3 from private sector organisations.
The NSA Programme has supported this strong engagement in the regional policy setting process through outreach and training seminars.
The next step for us is to formalize a more active role for civil society in both the implementation and the monitoring & evaluation of regional priorities.
But aside from these initiatives to enhance engagement and collaboration at PIFS, the NSA Grants Facility has been designed to support a much broader and exciting range of work on regional issues. And today is the official launch of the very first suite of projects supported by the Facility.
I am sure you are all interested to hear about the diversity of initiatives that are to be supported by the Facility, so before we present the awards I will just take a moment to give you a very brief overview of the seven grants that are to be awarded today:
We are really pleased with the composition of this first round of grant awards.
The Grant Facility is designed to support NSAs to strengthen their capacity to engage in regional level policy and you will see we have all the ingredients for robust policy dialogue here – research, alliance building, capacity building and strategy development.
So thank you to all the organisations that have taken the time to lodge an application to the Grants Facility and have demonstrated their commitment to contributing to the regional policy environment to ensure the best possible outcomes for the people of the Pacific Region.
We genuinely appreciate the work you are doing across the region and are very proud to be working with such a vibrant and committed group of NSAs.
But before we go into the formal presentation of awards, I would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude also to the European Union for making this program, and these grants awards a reality. Without the support of the EU, we would not be standing here today.