Civil society organisations (CSOs) are in Suva for the annual Regional CSO Forum this week to discuss their perspectives on regional policy priorities. The CSO Forum, in its third year, informs their collective position on regional priorities to present to the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in Apia next month (September).
On September 6, there will be two dialogues with Pacific Islands Forum Leaders. The first will be with representatives of civil society organisations, and the second with private sector representatives. The theme for the CSO dialogue, which aligns to this year’s Forum theme, is: Partnerships for the Blue Pacific – an exploration of the role and contribution of civil society.
The annual Regional CSO Forum is part of the European Union-funded programme Strengthening Non-State Actors Engagement in Regional Policy Development and Implementation which is administered by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Welcoming the Forum participants on Monday, August 7th, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor said the annual forum is intended to strengthen the processes and outcomes leading up to the engagement with the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders.
“The inclusivity of civil society in the policy process for this region was a decision of the Leaders and it is a point or an issue that I as the Secretary General am very deeply committed to. I chair regular meetings with NSAs and at every meeting there are new issues that are raised and we all learn from that, importantly because people from civil society have a different perspective on what is happening in the region,” Dame Meg said.
“It enriches the debate and it helps to influence what the policy decision should be for the leadership of this region. We are people who live on an ocean-based continent … we all share that one common heritage and it is really important that we ensure that citizens of our region have a voice in what happens for our future.”
The CSO Forum aims to provide CSO representatives an opportunity to meet and exchange their views on regional matters pertinent to the constituents they represent; it provides a forum for civil society from across the region to develop collective positions on issues to present to Forum Leaders. During the CSO Forum the participants will also select which CSO representatives will present the collective CSO positions at the dialogue with Leaders.
The European Union Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs said: ”An empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and is an asset in itself. It represents and fosters pluralism and can contribute to more effective policies, equitable and sustainable development and inclusive growth. The European Union is proud to help strengthen civil society and the role it plays in the Pacific.”
”This Forum will provide an important opportunity for CSOs from all over the Pacific to exchange views and to agree priorities for their work and for the discussions thy will have with the Pacific’s political Leaders in Apia next month. This is all about giving them a powerful voice that they will use in the interests of the people that they work with and in order to further inclusive sustainable development,” added Ambassador Jacobs.
Individuals participating in the Regional CSO Forum in August 2017 are expected to have undertaken some level of national policy consultations prior to the event to inform their interventions at the CSO Forum.
CSO representatives this year are from Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, RMI, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
For more information, please contact:
Mohammed Nazeem Kasim, European Union – Mohammed-Nazeem.KASIM@eeas.europa.eu
Ariela Zibiah, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat – firstname.lastname@example.org