INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY DAME MEG TAYLOR,
Opening of Research Week by
the Honourable Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Neioti Aiono Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa
USP Laucala Campus
Monday, 27 August 2018
The Honourable Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Neioti Aiono Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum;
Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the USP Council;
Professor Rajesh Chandra, the Vice Chancellor and President of the University of the South Pacific;
Representatives of the Diplomatic Missions and Representatives of CROP agencies;
Staff and Students of the University of the South Pacific, both here in Suva and streaming in from across the region;
Ladies and gentlemen.
This 50th anniversary for the University of the South Pacific is indeed an honourable milestone for Pacific regionalism and the building of its peoples, place and economies.
Since its establishment in 1968, the USP has remained one of our region’s greatest examples of regionalism; and the benefits we share from pooling our collective resources.
There is no doubt, that the region that we live in today has vastly evolved from what it was when this institution was first established. The current global context is a time of profound change; and it is happening at an unprecedented pace. Geo-strategic competition between major world powers has placed our region at the center of renewed strategic interest and importance.
In 2017, Prime Minister Tuilaepa as Forum Chair, and the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum endorsed the Blue Pacific identity as the core driver of collective action for advancing the Leaders vision under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
At its very core, the Blue Pacific identity is about the collective empowerment of Pacific people to determine their own development agenda. The Blue Pacific is about you and me; it is about policy makers and academic researchers; it is about national government and private sector and civil society stakeholders; it is about all of us working together for the betterment of our people.
During his tenure as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Prime Minister Tuilaepa has consistently advocated for and represented the Blue Pacific in the face of an increasingly crowded and complex Pacific region, with strengthening attention from both new and old partners seeking to assert their influence here.
Realising the potential of Pacific regionalism in the context we find ourselves in – today – requires a range of focused political conversations in order to establish strong foundations for the future that we want for our region.
The Blue Pacific narrative helps us to understand, in and on our own terms, based on our unique customary values and principles, the strategic value of our region. It guides our political conversations towards ensuring we have a strong and collective voice, a regional position and action, on issues vital to our development as a region and as the Blue Pacific continent.
Today, is a valuable opportunity for each of us and in particular our students across the region to capitalise on the Forum Chair’s time with us this afternoon – I encourage you all to make the most of it.
Honourable Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, while much remains uncertain in the current global order, one thing that we can be sure of is that we must face the future together if we are to secure the wellbeing and potential of our ocean continent – the Blue Pacific.