Slow progress, ongoing vulnerability: Dame Meg launches 2020 Pacific sustainable development report

Remarks by the Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum

9 December 2020


Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corp

Representatives of regional and international development agencies,

Ladies and gentlemen.

Greetings to you all.

I am very pleased to be able to officially launch this 2020 Biennial Pacific Sustainable Development Report

The theme of this report is “Ensuring Pacific People’s well-being through the Blue Pacific identity, the proposed 2050 Strategy and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

It is a report that recognises the centrality of the wellbeing of the Pacific people to the future of the Blue Pacific Continent. Indeed, this very same sentiment is echoed through the ongoing work to develop the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

I sincerely acknowledge the support and guidance of the Pacific Steering Committee and the technical advisers from across the CROP agencies, the United Nations in the Pacific, Private Sector and Civil Society representatives who have worked together to deliver the report before us.

At a global level, since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the Pacific has continued to demonstrate its commitment to working towards sustainable development. The 2017 Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development and the 2018 Quadrennial Pacific Regional Sustainable Development Report are a testament to this.

However, we also remain cognisant that the achievement of our sustainable development aspirations, as a region and as individual Members’, is dependent on our ability to work together at the national level, at the regional level and with the support of our development partners and agencies.

The findings of the Biennial Report

The 2020 Biennial report presents an update on the comprehensive findings in the 2018 Quadrennial Report.

Indeed, the 2018 report highlighted, amongst other things the need to increase the pace of progress towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. It cautioned against the increasing vulnerabilities and inequalities in the region and the limited access to infrastructure and basic services, in particular the inconsistent access to affordable and quality health care and the need to improve access to quality education.

The 2020 Biennial Report does not sugar-coat our reality here in the Blue Pacific and in essence, reaffirms the 2018 findings. Despite some significant achievements and milestones, it confirms the slow progress on our development targets in the Pacific with increasing vulnerabilities and deepening inequalities, more so now as we navigate through this pandemic.

The 2020 Biennial report before you reaffirms:

    • the region’s ongoing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters;
    • the need to bridge the significant gap in the participation of men vis a vis women in our economies, with women and youth in particular, under-represented in formal employment across the region;
    • the need to address and work to reduce the high rate of violence against women and girls – a problem deeply ingrained in our social norms and attitudes;
    • the need to strengthen the representation of women in political leadership; and
    • the recognition of the one million-plus persons with disabilities in the Pacific who still face deep inequalities and multiple barriers.

Indeed, it is imperative that we as a region work together to accelerate progress in several goals such as quality education (Goal 4), climate action (Goal 13) as well as the life on land and below water (Goals 14 and 15).

These issues will need to be managed and addressed within the parameters of our response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related unprecedented social and economic disruption it has meant for the region.

Looking forward to the second quadrennial report in 2022, we anticipate that at least 90% of the Forum membership would have completed their first or have undertaken their second voluntary national review.

Whilst I remain cognisant that our development trajectory would be impacted by our ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery plans I am confident that with our concerted efforts and coordination support we will deliver a more secure future for our Blue Pacific.

Refined and coordinated service delivery

Moving forward, our partnerships both within the region and with international development agencies and development partners will be crucial to delivering coherent, coordinated and targeted development support to Pacific Countries.

I recognise that coordination has always been a key challenge of ours, particular us as implementing and advisory agencies. However, the challenges that we are faced with today demand us to work together better and in a more efficient manner to deliver for our Pacific people.

Our most vulnerable are most at risk of bearing the brunt of any adversity across our societies. The voluntary national reviews show us our strengths, and also where we need to work together as one community. We need to be efficient in how we rise to our challenges and move beyond change.

Tomorrow, Thursday 10 December is International Human Rights Day, a day to reflect and remind ourselves that sustainable development is about people accessing and enjoying their hard-won rights under international law and that we as a family can collectively overcome our hardships, vulnerabilities and challenges if we respect and work together.

Ensuring progress in achieving the SDGs will be greatly enhanced by making sure that lessons are shared, and best practices are replicated. The 2020 Pacific Biennial Sustainable Development Report is a critical strategic platform to generate robust discussion and socialisation of equality and the actions required to bridge the gap.

Overall sustainable development requires our collective action to accelerate and address the root causes that perpetuate gender inequalities in our Blue Pacific continent.

To reaffirm, let us work together to support lasting action in the final decade to the 2030 agenda.

Indeed, to ensure success for our Blue Pacific, and one Blue Planet, we must all take action.

I thank you.



Read the 2020 Biennial Pacific Sustainable Development Report

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