Heads of Delegations & Your Excellencies
Representatives of the agencies of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with great pleasure that I warmly welcome you to your Secretariat headquarters for this meeting of the Forum Economic Ministers.
This is the first time the Secretariat is hosting this eminent forum and I am encouraged by the strong Ministerial representation.
Today is also a milestone occasion as it marks the 20th Meeting of the region’s Economic and Finance Ministers.
Honourable Ministers, over the past three years the resilience of our people, our island economies, and our intra-regional partnerships have been brought into sharper focus, as a number of our countries grappled with the disastrous impacts of tropical storms Maysak (2015), Pam (2015) and Winston (2016)
These have highlighted the increasing vulnerability and fragility of our region and the need for climate change and disaster risk considerations to be factored into resilient development in our Pacific States.
Our development must be sustainable and resilient in light of our inherent vulnerability and susceptibility to adverse economic shocks and climatic events.
Your discussions today will center on financing for development solutions for this region.
To that end, let me focus on two key issues: our collective strength in securing the financing needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, and beyond that, to fulfil our long term development aspirations.
Since the last FEMM in Rarotonga in 2015, our region has committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Along with the SAMOA Pathway for SIDS and our Framework for Pacific Regionalism, these landmark global commitments are intended to help address our vulnerabilities, improve our resilience and enable us to achieve our sustainable development aspirations.
Let me take this opportunity to commend the Pacific for the active role it continues to play in shaping these global agendas. As you will recall, in 2016 Samoa became the first Small Island Developing State to report on the 2030 Agenda. Fiji continues to demonstrate global leadership on sustainable development priorities critical to our region through its Presidency of the UN General Assembly, as co-host of the inaugural Oceans Conference in June this year, and as the incoming President of the UNFCC COP 23.
Turning to our regional preparations on the SDGs, over the past 12 months, CROP and other technical agencies in the region, have been working towards the finalisation of the Pacific SDGs Roadmap to realise, through a practical and achievable approach, the international commitments our Member States have made – which is, ensuring that we leave no one behind.
The strength of the SDGs Roadmap is that it builds directly on the lessons learned from the MDGs – tailoring the global indicators to better reflect our regional context. Additionally, it is also clear that the statistical capacity of Pacific Island Countries must be strengthened in order to produce coherent data as a means of monitoring and reporting.
As a developing region, investing in how we deliver the SDGs will be crucial. The realisation of the SDGs by our island states is largely dependent on how we are able to finance the achievement of these targets.
Together as a region we must harness the collective resources required to meet the SDGs which will in turn, realise a profound transformation in the lives of our people.
Financing to achieve sustainable development in our region is our most significant challenge.
We as a region, have relied heavily on donor financing. Our Leaders have called for transformative policy initiatives that will positively impact the lives of our people. It is time to explore constructive and practical regional solutions that will propel a dynamic shift away from this traditional development model.
The Pacific Islands Forum has long recognised the value in working together as a region. Our discussions today should focus on how we can work together to finance our development aspirations.
Therefore, tabled for your consideration at this meeting are regional financing architectural options to mobilise resources from within our region to finance our development.
A regional solution that addresses the barriers to the functionality of our national financial markets is a concrete way forward and will be testament to our collective ownership as a region.
Specifically, deliberations today will ask you to support the development of roadmaps to ultimately establish a regional finance facility that seeks to address the critical financing gaps in our region.
Your Excellency’s, turning to the challenges we face in relation to climate change and our vulnerability to disaster, the endorsement of the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific in 2016 has provided the political impetus to strengthen our regional focus on climate and disaster finance. This is in line with global commitments – the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework – which guide global efforts in these key areas.
It is critical that Pacific governments take ownership of the Framework; for it is only in this way that we can ensure its success and sustainability.
Now is the time to begin exploring new, innovative and sustainable means for financing our priorities and addressing our challenges. A regional fund is one pathway that promotes coordination, sustainability, low administrative costs and predictable and flexible financing.
This meeting provides the opportunity to re-consider, in line with the proposal for a regional financing facility, the feasibility and appetite for a Regional Climate Change Fund, Trust Fund or Insurance Fund, noting the multiple financing stakeholders that we can draw on.
In particular, we as a region need to recognise the role of the private sector in mobilising finance to support our regional priorities, most especially in climate change. The global landscape of climate finance in 2015 showed that a total of USD 391 billion was mobilised, and of this, private finance accounted for 69%.
Accordingly, it is critical that inclusive and comprehensive dialogue remains a key component of any regional approach that we consider. The Joint Dialogue with the Private Sector and Civil Society tomorrow presents a valuable opportunity for collectively discussing important issues in support of regional economic integration.
In closing, Honourable Ministers, I would urge you all to have frank and constructive discussions.
With these remarks, I wish you well in your deliberations and look forward to constructive discussions and decisions for the consideration of Forum Leaders when they next meet in Apia, Samoa in September this year.
Thank you very much.