The following statement was delivered by Statement by Henry Puna, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum at the 2021 Pacific ACP Officials meeting, PACPOM, on Tuesday 21 September, 2021:
Mr Esala Nayasi, Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Pacific ACP Officials Meeting
Heads of Delegations and Representatives of PACP Member Countries
Representatives of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific
Ladies and Gentlemen
Kia Orana and good afternoon.
I am pleased to be able to welcome you all to this Pacific ACP Officials Meeting.
Whilst I would have preferred that we were meeting in person, I do recognise the unprecedented circumstances we are in and the importance of continuing to dialogue on our collective priorities.
At the outset, allow me to convey to the Chair and the Government of Fiji as well as our other PACP Member States our collective condolences on the recent loss of life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and reassure PACP Members of our readiness to support, as required, their ongoing efforts in responding to and recovering from this pandemic.
In turning to the meeting at hand, Excellencies and Senior Officials, allow me to acknowledge you all for the time taken to join these collective discussions today.
Today’s meeting presents a valuable opportunity to progress the mandates and decisions taken by Pacific ACP Leaders at their meeting in 2019 and to engage in a collective discussion on key priority issues, including:
the new Partnership Agreement between the OACPS and the EU, to be known as the Samoa Agreement;
the future role and mandate of the PACP grouping given this new Agreement and other regional developments;
the climate change crisis we face and our preparations for COP 26; and
updates on PACP and Intra-ACP programmes.
Excellencies and Senior Officials, after more than two (2) years since the mandate for Post Cotonou Negotiations were endorsed, a new Samoa Agreement was initialled by Chief Negotiators on 15 April 2021.
Let me acknowledge the efforts of our PACP Ambassadors in Brussels in leading these important negotiations, as directed by the PACP Leaders. We thank you. Ahead of the signing of the Agreement, our meeting today is an opportunity to take stock of the Agreement and to discuss how best to steer its implementation for our Pacific region.
Further, in light of the new Agreement and the findings of the 2019 Review of Pacific Islands Forum Meetings Processes, the meeting today is an opportunity to reconsider the focus and structure of the PACP Leaders Meeting. I encourage you all to have a frank and open discussion on this matter, in terms of how the PACP can be fit for purpose to deliver and respond to our current and future development challenges.
Excellencies and Senior Officials, while COVID-19 is our immediate crisis, climate change is our enduring crisis presenting the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security and wellbeing of our Blue Pacific. PACP States are among the most vulnerable and only a pathway that leads to 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming can safeguard our region’s future. Thus, UNFCCC negotiations, and COP 26 in particular, is vital for the survival of our region and our people. Our meeting today provides an opportunity to progress PACP preparations and priorities for Glasgow.
As we commemorate fifty years since the establishment of the Forum, we must remain united and leverage our collective efforts and bargaining power in light of our Leaders vision and the aspirations and ambitions in the upcoming 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
Today’s meeting presents us with the opportunity to chart a long-term pathway in our engagement with the European Union, and as the PACP, to tackle critical development challenges for our region.
With those remarks, I thank you Chair, Excellencies and Senior Officials and wish you all well in your deliberations today.–End.
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