5th France-Oceania Summit
19 July, 2021
Remarks from Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Henry Puna
Pacific Ocean Commissioner
on Sustainable Oceans Management, Use and Conservation
His Excellency, Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic of France
The Chair and Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum
Ladies and Gentlemen —
Recognising the Leaders who have spoken before me, I thank you for this opportunity to also add my reflections in my capacity as the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General and Pacific Oceans Commissioner.
Excellencies, the world is at a cross-roads today, and the pandemic has forced us to refocus global efforts to managing the pandemic and its impacts – and rightfully so.
However, as eloquently put by Excellencies before me, the Ocean means so much more to us in the Pacific. It is more than just another resource pool. It is more than a mere testing ground and whilst it is important, it means more to our people than just being another “carbon sink”.
The Ocean is our home and the very thread that signifies our special and inextricable links as one Pacific Forum family.
Therefore, amidst this pandemic, we cannot afford to lose sight of the threats to the health and resilience of our oceans. We must address the adverse impacts of climate change on our oceans and biological diversity and promote the sustainable use of oceans resources.
It is imperative that we work together as a region and with our partners, to strengthen our oceans governance frameworks.
There is no doubt that we live in an era of fast-evolving digital transformation. We should take advantage of technology and explore strengthened and innovative opportunities to support the governance of our shared resource.
Indeed, the 2021 Forum Ocean Statement represents our collective concerns and priorities and it is a strong demonstration of our resolve to protect our very home.
I invite President Macron to work with us to reaffirm the importance of the oceans and its resources and to support us in realising the full potential of our Ocean aspirations.
Indeed, securing our maritime zones against sea-level rise is a defining issue that will underpin the full realisation of our Blue Pacific Continent. As the Pacific Oceans Commissioner, it is my responsibility to advocate for and garner political support across all spectrums for this and all our priorities – it is just too important an issue for the future of my children and grandchildren.
Having been in the region my entire life, I can assure you that data, science and innovation alone will not be able to engender the collective political demonstration we need on Oceans Governance in the Pacific.
Dialogue is the key. With this in mind, I recognise the Pacific Ocean Alliance, a multisectoral dialogue established under the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape as a key platform for robust dialogue on ocean governance policy.
Excellencies, we need to be innovative, we need to be bold, and we need to be creative as we work towards transformative solutions that will ensure the protection and sustainability of this, our great Ocean. But we can only do so, if we do so together.
At the international level, we have consistently championed the sustainable use and governance of the ocean. We will not stop. I invite France to support our advocacy at the upcoming COP 15 on biodiversity, and COP 26 on climate change, the UN Ocean Conference and Oceans Decade, and Our Ocean Conference in Palau.
Our wayfinding ancestors trusted in the power and potential of human endeavour to master travelling across these vast oceans. In recent days we have seen new frontiers achieved in travel beyond the skies. This must inspire us to envision new oceanic pathways harnessing human potential and collaboration to guide our sea of islands—and our one Blue Planet, into the future.
I thank you –ENDS
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