Opening Remarks by the Chair of the Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting 2019


Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

26 July 2019

  • The Honourable Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands
  • Honourable Ministers and Special Envoys of the Forum Member States, Associate Members and Forum Observers
  • The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum
  • Senior Officials
  • Representatives of the CROP Agencies
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

This year’s agenda is structured around the opportunity provided by the theme for the Forum meeting in Tuvalu, Securing our future in the Pacific.
The theme adds some new dimensions to what we have already been tasked by Leaders’ to do under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, that is to deepen Pacific regionalism in a prioritised, inclusive and political manner.
The agenda before you begins with an opportunity to think critically about how regionalism can and should contribute to securing the future of the Blue Pacific – a long-term vision and strategy for where we want regionalism to be may be just what is needed to set us on the right course and keep us focused for the long-term.
Furthermore, the theme invites us to consider our approach to the existing Forum priorities, including maritime boundaries, fisheries, resilience and security. Including these issues together under the broader agenda item “Securing our Future in the Pacific” presses us to ask ourselves, are we doing enough to secure our future? Are we focused on the right things, in the right ways? What are the conversations our Leaders need to be having to secure our place, our people and our prosperity?
Subsequent agenda items also invite us to rethink the way we do things and whether our institutional processes, our regional mechanisms, and the partners we engage are appropriate and relevant for securing the future we want for our region.
History has shown that the Pacific Islands Forum has been at its best in moments of challenge, when our solidarity and resolve have been both necessary and tested.  The development of the Law of the Sea, the scourge of nuclear testing, and RAMSI are key examples.
During these moments our Leaders have gathered around the table and figured out a way forward to deliver solutions in the best interests and the future wellbeing of the people of our Blue Pacific.
The current context I believe presents another such moment. In a context where climate change threatens our survival, multilateralism is failing, and geopolitical competition in our region seeks to divide us, committing to the future viability of our ocean continent, and making this commitment together, is not only a challenging task, but one that is deeply political.
Thank you, and I wish you all the best for what I hope will be free and frank deliberations.

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