Delivered by the Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum at the Pacific Youth Summit
7 December 2021
USP ICT Theatre
Youth of the Pacific
Ladies and Gentlemen
Bula vinaka and good morning to you all.
Thank you for inviting me to be part of this very important Pacific Youth Summit 2021.
As I considered the theme of your Summit – Resilient Youth Leaders: Drivers of sustainable development, I am encouraged and excited to see young people declare themselves as resilient leaders and drivers of development for our Blue Pacific Continent. Indeed, you are our now, and you are our future!
Our region, as with the world, has been devastated by the impacts of COVID-19. Our Blue Pacific, however, has to contend with climate change, increasing disaster events and the economic fallout of COVID-19. We will continue to experience challenges and uncertainty into the future. Coupled with growing vulnerabilities, we must work, plan and rebuild together.
I believe, this is an opportunity for you as young people and as leaders, to play a key role in taking our region, and our people on a journey towards greater prosperity and an increasingly vibrant future fueled by your enthusiasm, your passion and of course through more inclusive and collective efforts.
Today, you will discuss issues dealing with business opportunities, governance, accountability and integrity to name a few. I hope you remain true to the core values of our Blue Pacific region, family, solidarity, responsibility and empathy, as we strive for a collective future where none of us will be left behind!
As young leaders, I encourage you to think critically about the role of governance and transparency and how these need to be central tenets in building a strong future for our region.
I wish to specifically highlight our regions greatest threat of climate change and the ensuing increased frequency of natural disasters that will greatly impact on our future and that of your children and grandchildren.
You must take up the mantle and burden of addressing this issue at all levels! Engage with your communities, your governments and continue to be that agent of influence young people are best known for.
We have witnessed as proud Pacific Islanders the active engagement and participation of young people from across the region in the recently held COP 26 negotiations in Glasgow.
We recognize and applaud those of you who rose to make your voices heard despite resource constraints and the high risk of COVID-19. I thank you.
Powerful messages came through from young people such as Ms Brianna Fruen of Samoa boldly stating, ‘we are not drowning, we are fighting’. It is also the first time, first time there is global consensus that 1.5C is the threshold to stay alive.
As a region, we are committed to protecting and maintaining our maritime zones and boundaries despite the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Through the Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the face of Climate Change-Related Sea-Level Rise, we encourage you to participate in these discussions as we fight to protect our rights, our entitlements, our home for all generations.
In relation to the Teieniwa vision that was endorsed in Kiribati February of 2020 and adopted by Forum Leaders in their meeting in 2021, the Secretariat is working with partners through Forum Governance mechanisms to develop an implementation plan. We look forward to youth participation through that process.
We also thank you for your participation and commitment to the development of the 2050 Strategy of the Blue Pacific Continent. Students and youth leaders from a across the region were able to articulate and share their dreams of what they would like to see by 2050. Your voices are critical in shaping and strengthening inclusive regional policies.
We are confident that we will achieve our vision by working together to ensure our people prosper, our cultures protected, and our identities secure in the face of whatever may come our way!
I look forward to hearing the outcomes of this summit and pledge our continued commitment to engaging with you into the future!
With these remarks, I wish you all the very best in your deliberations and discussions.
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