SUVA, FIJI, NOV 24, 2020— Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor joined a global session of 24 heads of regional and international organisations in a virtual meeting from 1-4am (Fiji time) with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. At the High-Level Interactive Dialogue, UNSG Guterres acknowledged the strong advocacy efforts of the Pacific Islands Forum Member States on Climate Action and reaffirmed his full support and advocacy at the international level.
The full text of the SG’s statement follows.
MEETING OF THE UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL WITH THE HEADS OF REGIONAL AND OTHER ORGANISATIONS
Nov 24th, 1am-4am Fj-time
STATEMENT BY THE PIF SECRETARY GENERAL
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, My colleagues – Heads of Regional and Other Organisations, Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning from the Pacific
With the on-set of COVID-19, the Blue Pacific faces the trifecta of threats – a direct threat to our health, overwhelming economic shocks and loss of livelihoods and the enduring threat of climate change and its associated impacts.
COVID-19 has set our Blue Pacific region back and made us even more dependent on donors and relatedly has impacted debt levels for island economies. Allow me to align my comments with that of CARICOM at this point in calling for a vulnerability index to apply to the availability of and drawdown of financing support at this time. To this end, may I offer CARICOM the Pacific’s support to work together on the development of a vulnerability index that can be applied to financing support and the distribution of the vaccines.
Excellencies, Pacific Island Countries project a substantial contraction in their economies for 2020. The related social impacts are increasing as the crisis prolongs. Emerging issues are evident amongst women, youth, children, the elderly and persons living with disabilities. Anecdotal evidence suggests that gender and family violence has increased as well as mental health issues, including amongst men who have lost employment.
Although violent or armed conflict is absent from our region, the impacts of the pandemic on our human security at the individual, family and community level are significant. Indeed, now more than ever, we are more aware of the value of multilateralism in ensuring strong collaboration and coordination – I must emphasise that at times such as this international and regional agencies must align work programmes to avoid duplications.
Pacific Humanitarian Pathway
At a regional level in the Pacific, COVID-19 has resulted in significant challenges in the movement of technical health personnel and essential medical and humanitarian supplies. The Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19 (PHP-C) was established by Forum Foreign Ministers and operationalised through the development of key protocols to facilitate movement of personnel and supplies. The PHP-C is a demonstration of the value of regional and international agencies working together. I offer this as an example of strengthened partnership.
Having said that I can reaffirm your observation and confirm that geo-strategic positioning is also evident in our region and in the various response and recovery plans being pursued. Indeed, a stronger and coordinated multilateral approach earlier would have resulted in better preparatory planning and support for our Pacific States. It is clear that the solution to this pandemic is a global one and we as regional organisations must work in close coordination with the multilateral agencies such as the United Nations to continue to emphasise this very point in our respective regions.
Excellencies, we note and fully support the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire on 23 March 2020 and reaffirm the need for this to enable the continued delivery of medical and humanitarian assistance and wish to note, that now is the opportune time to reinforce the cessation of armed conflict for enduring global peace and security.
We do not know what the post-COVID world will look like, however, one thing is certain, since World War 2, multilateralism has delivered greater peace and security across the world. I believe that we as heads of regional and multilateral organisations will need to resolve to do more with less and demonstrate its continued strategic value. This will lead to greater peace, security and prosperity for all our peoples