9th Japan-Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting, PALM9- Opening/Closing Remarks from Forum Chair, Hon. Kausea Natano

Opening Remarks by The Honourable Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum  

to the 

9th PACIFIC ISLANDS LEADERS MEETING (PALM 9)

The Honourable Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan
Fellow Pacific Islands Forum Leaders
Excellencies
Ladies and Gentlemen

Talofa and warm greetings from the people and government of Tuvalu and the peoples of the Pacific. It is my honour to address you today as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Co-chair of this, our 9th PALM meeting.

As Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, we value our close partnership with the Government of Japan, as a Forum Dialogue Partner, and the opportunity to meet to discuss critical issues and opportunities for our Blue Pacific region.

Three years have passed since the last PALM – and in that time we have seen significant developments around the world, and closer to home.

These are no doubt, extraordinary times.

COVID-19 has disrupted in a very dramatic way, livelihoods in our countries, our region, and our world. The pandemic has led to a major loss of life and presented significant challenges to public health, social inclusion, and economic stability. Indeed, for the first time in 30 years, global poverty is on the rise.

For our Blue Pacific region, the pandemic has had a devastating socio-economic impact, exposing systemic vulnerabilities, and wiping out decades of development gains. The effects will be felt for months and years to come.

And yet it is not the only crisis we face. The Forum recognises climate change as the single greatest threat to livelihoods, wellbeing and security of our Blue Pacific region and calls for urgent and ambitious action to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This is a matter of survival for our Islands.

Prime Minister Suga, the Blue Pacific Continent covers one third of our planet’s surface. As stewards of this Oceanic continent, Forum Leaders are determined to overcome current and future development challenges and build a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity.

To drive our region’s strategic interests and development priorities over the longer term, we are developing a 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. Ultimately, this Strategy is about securing our place and prospects to ensure a bright and prosperous future for all Pacific people.

In pursing our ambitions as the Blue Pacific, we strive for genuine and enduring partnerships, in the spirit of our Blue Pacific Principles for Dialogue and Engagement and that recognise and support the collective strength, voice, and priorities of our Pacific region.

With next year marking 25 years of the PALM, this is indeed a strong and enduring partnership. I invite the Government of Japan and my fellow Forum Leaders to continue to strengthen our partnership, commitment, and actions from the PALM.

Colleagues, today we have the opportunity to advance our dialogue and cooperation in areas of critical concern to our Blue Pacific. COVID-19 response and recovery, climate change and disaster resilience, and the sustainable management of our ocean are foremost among these.

We seek honest and frank dialogue on Japan’s plans to discharge of ALPS Treated Water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean, recognising that it has potential hazards and impact on our very essence, and the most vulnerable of our people.

We seek to strengthen development cooperation, trade and investment links, people to people connections and our cooperation in international fora. And we seek to build Japan’s support for critical regional initiatives including the Pacific Resilience Facility and zone-based management for our fisheries.

As I conclude, let me emphasise our hope to welcome you, Prime Minister Suga, to our Blue Pacific islands soon, and likewise to visit Japan again.

Honourable Leaders, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, regional and inter-regional cooperation is essential if we are to build a safe, secure, and prosperous world.

Let us ensure our 9th PALM progresses our important partnership and ultimately builds the resilience, sustainability, peace, and prosperity of our region.

Thank you.

 

Closing Remarks by The Honourable Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum  

The Honourable Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan

Fellow Pacific Islands Forum Leaders

Excellencies

Ladies and Gentlemen

· As Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, let me thank Japan and my fellow Forum Leaders for the open and constructive dialogue today on matters critical to the future of our Blue Pacific region.

· Indeed, both the preparation leading up to our meeting, and our dialogue today, is testament to the strength of our partnership, and our ability to come together and progress both our mutual interests and the work to close the gaps in areas of divergence.

· Let me register our appreciation and gratitude to the Government of Japan for supporting the PALM platform – which for almost 25 years has provided a space for meaningful discussion on our visions and priorities for the region.

· Prime Minister Suga, we welcomed the opportunity to hear and learn today about Japan’s future engagement and support for the Pacific region, including through the Pacific Bond (Kizuna) Policy.

· Likewise, we appreciated the opportunity to brief you on Forum Members’ ongoing commitment to Pacific regionalism and the development of a 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, to deepen our commitment to work together and build on our shared stewardship of the Pacific Ocean.

· Ultimately, as one Blue Pacific, we seek to build a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity, for all Pacific people.

· Prime Minister Suga, let me also thank you for the frank and informative discussions on a matter of concern to our Blue Pacific, Japan’s plans to discharge ALPS Treated Water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. We seek to continue our dialogue and the sharing of scientific information, recognising the potential hazards and impact of such a discharge on the ocean environment and the health of peoples in our region.

· Fellow Leaders, PALM 9 has reinvigorated our partnership and set a forward plan for collaboration on issues of critical importance to our region, and indeed, the world. This includes COVID-19 response and recovery, climate change and disaster resilience; climate

change induced sea level rise; sustaining the health and resilience of our oceans; sustainable and resilient economic development; and people to people links. Let us take forward our commitments today and turn our words into action and impact.

· Indeed, let us work together within the region, but also on the international stage, to drive global action on all of these priority issues. This must include ambitious outcomes at COP 26 this November to keep our world temperatures to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels, and related greenhouse emissions pathways.

· Colleagues, we are at a time when regional stability has never been more critical to maintaining security and prosperity. Supporting such stability requires genuine and mature partnerships, that recognise and support the collective strength, voice, and priorities of Pacific people.

· Prime Minister Suga, thank you for a successful PALM 9 and for allowing me to co-chair this summit with you. Let me also thank my fellow Pacific Leaders for their support and cooperation, and our Forum officials and CROP agencies for their technical advice and guidance.

· Let me reiterate our offer to host the next PALM Ministerial Interim Meeting in our Blue Pacific region, and welcome Japan’s proposal to host PALM 10 in Japan.

· In closing, let me wish Japan all the very best as it hosts the Summer Olympics later this month

· I look forward to the time when we meet again as partners, and can greet each other, in person.

· Thank you.

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