Opening Remarks by The Honourable Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum
5th France-Oceania Summit (virtual) July 19th, 2021
His Excellency, Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic of France
Pacific Islands Forum Leaders
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum
Ladies and Gentlemen
· Talofa and warm greetings from the people and government of Tuvalu and across our Blue Pacific Continent. It is my honour to address you today as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum at this, our 5th France – Oceania Summit.
· As Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, we value our close and enduring partnership with the Republic of France, who has been a Forum Dialogue Partner for a period of over 30 years, and no doubt a significant development partner for our Blue Pacific region.
· We also value the France – Oceania Summit, as providing a space for dedicated dialogue on issues of critical importance to our region, and of global concern. Indeed, we recall that the 4th France-Oceania Summit was held in France in November 2015, just prior to COP21 which negotiated the landmark Paris Agreement, designed to drive ambitious global action on climate change.
· We hope our conversation today will lead to meaningful collaboration on issues such as COVID-19 response and recovery; safeguarding the health of our ocean and the sustainable use and conservation of resources; and climate change and building resilience.
· Honourable Leaders, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensuring the health and welfare of our peoples, is a paramount concern for Forum Leaders.
· I take this opportunity to convey sincere condolences to all families and friends of loved ones in the Pacific, and in Europe, who have succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
· Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating socio-economic impact on our Blue Pacific region, exposing systemic vulnerabilities, and wiping out decades of development gains. Together, we must ‘build back better’ to ensure inclusive, healthy, secure, and prosperous communities and countries.
· And yet COVID-19 is not the only crisis we face. Forum Leaders recognise climate change as the single greatest threat to our Blue Pacific region. We remain determined to play our part in the global effort to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement to keep temperature levels to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is a matter of our very own survival. We also remain determined to build the resilience of our region to climate change impacts and disasters, including through the new Pacific Resilience Facility.
· Furthermore, Forum Leaders envisage that securing our maritime zones against sea-level rise is a defining issue for the Pacific, underpinning collective efforts to achieve the full realisation of our Blue Pacific Continent.
· On this basis, we note with grave concern the ongoing trends of ocean degradation, due to pollution and nuclear contamination. We stress that more must be done to protect the ocean environment and resources therein, which are central to our way of life.
· The challenges brought about by the COVID-19, climate change impacts and the declining health and resilience of our ocean, affect us all. These challenges underscore the importance of building genuine partnerships and international collaboration, including at upcoming global negotiations such as at COP15 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and COP26 of the UNFCCC.
· Mr President, in 2019, Forum Leaders recognised that securing the future of the Blue Pacific required a long-term vision, a carefully considered strategy for regionalism, and collective commitment, to achieve it.
· It was on this basis that Forum Leaders endorsed the development of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent – to further the region’s commitment to work as one region, consistent with the objectives of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
· The 2050 Strategy is based on the connections that we Pacific peoples have with our ocean, natural resources, and our environment. It also recognises the centrality of culture and identity in any future strategy moving forward.
· When it is endorsed by Forum Leaders later this year, the 2050 Strategy will represent our long-term pathway to deepen regional cooperation based on our shared strategic interests, as the Blue Pacific. We look forward to engaging with France to determine how it can best support the strategic intent and high-level objectives of the Strategy.
· As I conclude, let me thank you, Mr President, for your global leadership on matters such as climate change and on biodiversity, and for France’s ongoing cooperation with our Blue Pacific region. We look forward to our discussions today to strengthen our partnership and collaboration.
· Thank you.–ENDS
FORUM MEMBERS/CROP SPEAKERS TO THE FRANCE-OCEANIA SUMMIT:
SESSION 1: SUSTAINABLE OCEAN MANAGEMENT, USE AND CONSERVATION
· President Taneti Maamau, Kiribati
· Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia
· Prime Minister Mark Brown, Cook Islands
· President Louis Mapou, New Caledonia
SESSION 2: CLIMATE CHANGE & DISASTER RESILIENCE AND RESPONSE
· Prime Minister James Marape, Papua New Guinea
· Acting President Christopher Loeak, Republic of Marshall Islands
· Peseta Noumea Simi, CEO MFAT, Samoa
· Legislative Assembly President Iloai, Wallis & Futuna
SESSION 3: COVID-19 ECONOMIC RECOVERY, CONNECTIVITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE
· Minister Inia Seruiratu, Fiji
· Mr. Viliami Malolo, Lord Privy Seal and Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Tonga