Summary of Decisions for the 28th Smaller Islands States Leaders Meeting

SIS Group photo



 3 September 2018



The Pacific Islands Forum Smaller Island States (SIS) Leaders Meeting was held on 3 September 2018 in Nauru, and was attended by the following SIS Leaders: Honourable Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands; His Excellency Peter M. Christian, President of the Federated States of Micronesia; His Excellency Taneti Maamau, Beretitenti of Kiribati; His Excellency Baron Waqa, President of Nauru; Her Excellency Hilda C. Heine, Ed.D, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands; and The Right Honourable Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu. Palau was represented by Honourable Faustina Rehuher Marugg, Minister of State.  Wallis & Futuna attended as an Observer. CROP agencies were represented by the Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP); Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA); Pacific Power Association (PPA); Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC); Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP); Secretariat of the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the University of the South Pacific (USP).

  1. In reassuming the Chair of the SIS Leaders’ Meeting, His Excellency the President of Nauru, Baron Divavesi Waqa, expressed his pleasure to have chaired the SIS over the last twelve months and to host this year’s Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting. The Chair also congratulated the Prime Minister of Cook Islands on his recent successful re-election.
  2. Leaders thanked the President and the government of Nauru for hosting this year’s SIS Leaders’ meeting, and extended their appreciation to all Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum for their ongoing support to the SIS Leaders.
  3. Leaders agreed for the issue of radioactive contaminants to be a standalone agenda item of the SIS Leaders, and Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meetings, moving forward.
  4. Leaders also reinforced the importance of continuity and follow up on previous tasking from past meetings including radioactive contaminants and the Pacific Islands Climate Change Insurance Facility (PICCIF).
  5. The Chair encouraged Leaders to coordinate their efforts and caucus on issues of collective importance and priority to SIS, to ensure that where necessary, SIS decisions are collectively endorsed by Forum Leaders in the Forum Communique.
  6. The Chair further acknowledged the Secretariat and CROP agencies for their ongoing support to the implementation of regional SIS priorities and issues identified under the SIS Regional Strategy 2016-2020, as well as the work of SIS Officials in adhering to Leaders’ directives of ensuring that a strategic and pertinent set of issues is put forth for their consideration.

Building a Strong Pacific: Our People, Our Islands, Our Will

  1. In acknowledging the theme for this year’s Forum, Building a Strong Pacific: Our People, Our Islands, Our Will, Leaders recognised the increasing complexities of the geopolitical environment as well as the increasing interest of traditional and non-traditional partners in the Blue Pacific and called for the need to be provided the space and time to be able to discuss issues and priorities of shared importance.
  2. Leaders further agreed that consideration be given to delegate the responsibilities of the Forum Dialogue Partners meeting to Forum Foreign Ministers at their meeting in 2019 and onwards. Leaders also agreed to raise this issue at the wider Forum Leaders Retreat and tasked the Secretariat to prepare a proposal for this purpose.
  3. Leaders also noted the critical role of the SIS, as a Forum construct, in advancing its key interests within the Forum. Leaders reaffirmed their solidarity by participating in meetings, especially the SIS Leaders Meeting, where critical decisions are made thereby reinforcing the value in caucusing as a small grouping before voices are heard in the wider Forum.
  4. To further reinforce the relevance of the SIS grouping, as a political bloc, Leaders emphasised the need for greater commitment to utilise existing mechanisms to progress SIS priorities through more frequent interventions, including but not limited to the use of available technologies to convene meetings out-of-session.
  5. Leaders recognised the pressing and ongoing threats faced by Smaller Island States regarding the effects of sea level rise and supported the decision to request the International Law Commission to place the topic of ‘Sea Level Rise in relation to international law’ on its long term programme of work, as well as its active programme of work in order to examine the international law implications of sea level rise as a matter of extreme urgency.
  6. Leaders also agreed that culture and social inclusion are critical in advancing sustainable economic growth and socio-economic development for our peoples, including vulnerable groups such as women, youth and persons with disabilities as an integral part of The Blue Pacific narrative.
  7. Leaders agreed to prioritising issues such as the commitment to the Paris Agreement and to focus their efforts on taking advantage of opportunities to strengthening engagement with external partners.
  8. Leaders further committed to revitalising the identity of the SIS sub-grouping through The Blue Pacific narrative and agreed to caucus on issues of importance in order to drive SIS priorities in the broader Forum context as well as in various regional and international fora.

SIS Strategy

  1. Leaders noted the Second Annual Progress Report of the SIS Regional Strategy 2016-2020 and acknowledged the support by CROP agencies to SIS for 2017/2018.
  2. In order to progress the work on a Joint SIS proposal to the Green Climate Fund, Leaders tasked their respective National Designated Authorities to work towards a collective approach as premised in the SIS Strategy and implementation plan, noting the need for fair, equitable and transparent distribution of country shares.
  3. Leaders welcomed the progress of the Taskforce for the Pacific Island Climate Change Insurance Facility (PICCIF) and encouraged the Taskforce to accelerate their work with a view to launching the Facility at the next SIS Leaders meeting in Tuvalu in 2019. Leaders tasked the Secretariat to accelerate the work on the Pacific Island Climate Change Insurance Facility (PICCIF) in response to the outcomes of the 2018 Forum Economic Ministers Meeting.
  4. Leaders called on all other Pacific Island Forum members as well as members of the international community to urgently accelerate the achievements of greenhouse gas reductions to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius. Leaders also called for the urgent resolution and adoption of the rule book of the Paris Agreement.
  5. Leaders noted the presentation from the Republic of the Marshall Islands on the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and welcomed the opportunity to participate in the CVF Virtual Summit of Heads of Governments 22 November 2018. The Leaders also tasked CROP agencies to provide the necessary technical support and encouraged resourcing by Development Partners.
  6. Leaders further reaffirmed the importance of the SIS priorities on Upper Airspace Management from both the national and regional perspectives; and Labour Mobility, especially to promote an enabling environment conducive to meeting the labour mobility needs of SIS including but not limited to less stringent visa requirements. Leaders committed to advancing the necessary work, in close collaboration with the Secretariat over the coming year.
  7. Leaders welcomed the update by the Republic of the Marshall Islands on the Micronesian Centre for Sustainable Transport and noted the Pacific Islands Transport Forum and EXPO to be held in Suva in November 2018 to link to the Talanoa Dialogue in relation to the Pacific position on regional transport decarbonisation.

Strengthening SIS Arrangements

  1. Leaders endorsed the establishment of a small Working Group comprised of SIS officials to conduct the mid-term review of the SIS Strategy in 2019.
  2. Leaders further endorsed the recommendations provided in the Report on the Review of the Engagement of Smaller Island States Officers and acknowledged the work carried out by the Taskforce and the Working Group in conducting and completing the Review, as directed by Leaders.
  3. Leaders noted the update on the PIFS-SIS Attachment Programme and the Joint CROP-SIS Attachment Programme and further recognised its importance as a capacity building support mechanism. Leaders further committed to improve national processes in order to fully maximise the opportunities provided by these initiatives.

Other Matters

  1. Leaders welcomed Kiribati’s intention to host the Anti-Corruption Regional Meeting in 2019, as part of its commitments to the UN Convention against Corruption.
  2. Leaders further noted the request by Kiribati seeking support for its Minister of Finance as the candidate for either the LDC seat or Asia/Pacific seat on the Green Climate Fund Board, given the imminent completion of Samoa’s term in the SIDS seat.
  3. Leaders also welcomed Palau’s intention to host the 2020 Our Ocean Conference and agreed to support Palau by advocating for financial and technical assistance from Development Partners.
  4. Leaders supported the candidacy of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United Nations Hunan Rights Council for the term 2020-2022, with elections anticipated to be held in New York in November 2019.
  5. Leaders welcomed the 8th Polynesian Leaders Group Communique held in Tuvalu in June 2018 and the Amatuku Declaration on Climate Change and Oceans.

3 September 2018

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