by Pacific Islands Forum Chair
Hon. Josaia V. Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji
for the Pacific -ACP Leaders Meeting, September 30th, 2021
Excellencies and Colleague Leaders
Secretary General Puna
Representatives of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific
Ladies and Gentlemen
Bula Vinaka to you all from Suva, Fiji.
It is always a valuable opportunity when we convene as Leaders to consider and discuss issues of mutual concern and priority to us.
7 weeks ago, we met as Forum Leaders and started the 51st Pacific Islands Forum and Related Meetings under the theme: Security and Prosperity in Unity: 50 Years of the Pacific Islands.
Indeed, in this, our 50th anniversary year, we have seen a range of regional discussions and events that has triggered a very necessary opportunity for a collective self-reflection on the value, benefits, and areas for strengthened improvement of our Pacific Islands Forum.
I continue to be encouraged by the range of political discussions that have been had I remain hopeful that the Forum family will emerge stronger through these current challenges.
Similarly, Excellencies and Ministers, as Pacific ACP States we are now at a juncture where we are considering how best to organise as Pacific ACP States, taking into account the new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement – which we look forward to signing in Samoa in 2022.
There is no doubt that the Pacific ACP States is an important grouping – not just for our engagement with the European Union and with fellow African and Caribbean States, but more broadly also.
This platform can be an opportunity for Pacific developing states to work together to discuss and develop solutions to overcome common development challenges towards a sustainable future for our people. And indeed, there is room for this comprehensive discussion within the ambit of the imminent work on the Review of the Regional Architecture.
Excellencies, our region is faced with a set of extraordinary circumstances which are now amplifying our existing vulnerabilities and challenges – the COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic challenges, an intensifying climate crisis and the ongoing geopolitical tussle on the rim of the Pacific region.
To combat such challenges, we must work together and forge our own development future. We must ensure that our engagement with all our international partners responds to our collective vision and priorities for our Blue Pacific.
Excellencies, we last met as Pacific ACP Leaders in Tuvalu in August 2019 amid the Post Cotonou Negotiations. Today we will consider the outcome of those negotiations and discuss its implications on our engagement with the European Union over the next 20 years.
I acknowledge our Ministers, Senior Officials and our Ambassadors in Brussels who have worked tirelessly to finalise a new Agreement that is reflective of our Pacific priorities, in particular, climate change and resilience, and Oceans, seas, and fisheries.
Just as crucial, Excellencies and Ministers, is how we move forward collectively to implement this new agreement.
We must ensure that the implementing modalities that we confirm are complementary of our existing national and regional mechanisms. By the same tenor, there must always be an opportunity for our voice to be heard in these discussions and decisions because it is our future and that of our people who will be impacted the most.
Which brings me to the issue of Climate Change.
Excellencies and Ministers, as Pacific ACP States we are now on the frontlines of the climate crisis and only a 1.5-degree world will safeguard our region’s sustainable future.
We must reaffirm this, and indeed demand this, at COP 26 in Glasgow next month. It is our collective responsibility. Today, we have the opportunity to deliberate on this and I look forward to our discussions.
Excellencies and Ministers, it is a challenging road ahead, but I remain hopeful and confident that we can overcome our challenges with unity and ambitious collective action.
Thank you and Vinaka vakalevu.
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