23 July 2021, ForumSec SUVA, FIJI— The 5th France – Oceania Summit, co-chaired by Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic and the Honourable Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu was held virtually on 19th July, covering COVID-19 response and recovery; safeguarding the health of our ocean and its resources; climate change, biodiversity and building resilience.
The timing of the Summit was planned ahead of President Macron’s scheduled visit to French Polynesia, and to build global leadership and cooperation towards the upcoming COP 15 on biodiversity and COP 26 on climate change.
“France stands shoulder to shoulder with you in facing the crucial security challenges we must resolve, together, President Macron stated in opening comments. He acknowledged the challenges of climate change, global security and regional stability amongst the key issues for France, now the only EU member state with a presence in the Pacific.
“Our aim is to bring this added value, to contribute towards finding solutions to the challenges you face, by means of the cooperation and the multilateralism that we advocate here as elsewhere,” he added.
In his opening statement to the Summit, Pacific Islands Forum Chair, Tuvalu Prime Minister Hon. Kausea Natano said the challenges of COVID-19, climate change impacts and the declining health and resilience of our ocean affect us all and underscore the importance of building genuine partnerships and international collaboration. Prime Minister Natano highlighted the development of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent to ensure a long-term pathway to deepen regional cooperation, and called on France, as a Forum Dialogue Partner for over 30 years, to align its support to the Strategy once finalised.
Speaking on the sustainable ocean agenda item, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Henry Puna, said “data, science and innovation alone will not be able to engender the collective political demonstration we need on Ocean Governance in the Pacific.”
“Dialogue is the key,” he added, noting the emergence of the Pacific Ocean Alliance, a multisectoral dialogue for all who have a stake in our Blue Pacific Ocean.
“We will be innovative, we will be bold, and we will 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,” SG Puna said
Leaders endorsed a Summit Declaration committing to strengthening cooperation on COVID-19 response and recovery; sustainable ocean management, use and conservation; IUU fishing; climate change and resilience; disaster response; protection of biodiversity; renewable energy; and ICT and electronic communications. This includes support for key regional frameworks and agreements such as the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, Kainaki II Declaration on Urgent Climate Change Action Now, Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific, and Boe Declaration on Regional Security.
In his final remarks as the Summit ended, the Forum Chair called on France and Forum Leaders to take forward the Summit commitments and turn words into action through regional cooperation and advocacy on the global stage.
“I believe our dialogue and declaration embodies our commitment to collective action on critical matters for our Blue Pacific region and provides a strong basis to strengthen our partnership and collaboration,” he said, reaffirming the commitment of Forum Members to strengthen Pacific regionalism through the development of a 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, “and to work together and build on our shared stewardship of the Pacific Ocean.”
The Summit was attended by Leaders or representatives of France, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, the Republic of Fiji, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, the Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), Pacific Community (SPC), and Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
The last (4th) France – Oceania Summit was held in Paris, France in 2015 just prior to UNFCCC COP21 and the finalisation of the Paris Agreement.