Statement by Secretary General of Pacific Islands Forum and Pacific Ocean Commissioner
Mr Henry Puna at the Pacific Women Leaders Side Event at CSW 66, March 24, 2022
• Hon Wevers- Croes, Prime Minister of Aruba
• Hon Fiame Mata’afa, Prime Minister of Samoa
• Minister Rosy Akbar, Fiji’s Minister for Women
• Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen
• Ms Elchung Hideoyos of Palau
Bula Vinaka and Kia Orana.
• I am delighted to join you all in my capacity as the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum and as the Pacific Ocean Commissioner.
• Thank you for taking the time to join us at this important event organized by my officials at the Forum Secretariat, – the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, in collaboration with the UN Women in the Pacific and Barbados and the Caribbean Community.
• This month we celebrated International Women’s Day with the important message of breaking the bias.
• It was a timely reminder for our team at the Forum that gender equality is an important strategic pathway to a sustainable Blue Pacific tomorrow.
• Our Forum Leaders have emphasized their commitment over the years to gender-equality and important progress has been made in all Pacific countries to address this. However, there is still much work to be done. The data tells us, but more importantly== our women and girls, our people, and leaders, tell us. We need to move beyond aspiration to action, at scale, to end gender-based violence. To bring balance to Pacific leadership, at all levels. To address our global rankings near the bottom of the ladder on women in politics and near the top on gender-based violence.
• Your excellencies, as we meet virtually today, I am reminded of the opportunities we now must bring many more of our citizens with us on this annual journey to CSW. Through this online platform we can bring home the intentional focus and power of CSW, not after the event, but in real time. to celebrate the milestones, but also, and more importantly, to spotlight the increasingly urgent work before us. Increasingly urgent in view of the CSW66 theme, especially as we know that our Pacific realities confirm that women and girls are bearing the worst of the twin crises of climate change and COVID19.
• This is more important now, in relation to the ocean and climate nexus, with ocean priorities elevated in the Glasgow Agreement after COP 26.
• The decision by COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland last year outlining the important steps shown towards integrating ocean into the UNFCCC work programme is good news to large ocean states, and all island nations of the world– it means that our ocean story is being recognized.
• We have stated the solutions our ocean can offer for our sustainable development pathway, notwithstanding the triple crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and plastic pollution.
• The review theme is also a timely invitation to take note of women taking charge of work- paid and unpaid — that has ocean at the centre.
• From those who are leading the way from the top of organisations and nations, like yourselves, to the many whose livelihoods and communities depend on the sustenance of our mother ocean–collecting seashells, fishing, diving, sailing the high seas, mapping the ocean floor, or studying the different organisms living in the deep– women are the holders of and communicators of knowledge, resilience, solutions, innovation, when it comes to the ocean.
• The very first Pacific Islander to travel to the deepest part of the ocean in the Mariana Trench in Northern Marianas- known as Challenger Deep, is a young woman from Micronesia.
• Nicole Yamase might have seen that as part of her work towards her doctorate, but that is a proud moment for all of us from here in the Pacific.
Especially for a place less travelled– more people have been to the moon–It is for these less travelled places on earth, in whatever aspect that will be, that you, our women leaders, will make an impact.
• This discourse is also part of that important work, highlighting your experiences as women, as leaders, as essential stakeholders in sustainable futures.
• For us ocean is central in the Blue Pacific, and I know it is too, for you our sisters and brothers from the Caribbean.
• I understand the 4th BBNJ Intergovernmental Conference has just concluded last week here in New York. While the challenges in reaching agreement are many, I am glad that delegates from the Pacific and Caribbean have continued to collaborate in the advancement of SIDS issues through the Alliance of Small Island States. To the President of the Intergovernmental Conference on the BBNJ negotiations Ms Rena Lee and the numerous women negotiators, including our very own from the Pacific who worked very hard in the past two weeks – I say thank you all, and I wish you an ocean of strength and solidarity as you convene in August for what we hope will be the final session for the BBNJ negotiations.
• But for now– We are honored to have you here, our women leaders to talk about how, together. we can best champion the ocean-climate nexus.
• We look forward to hearing more about what drives you in this area of work and where you would like to see yourselves in the coming years.
• I wish you the very best in your discussions today and I hope there will be some key take aways for us all. • And no matter the different regions we hail from, we are all one people, one ocean, one Blue Pacific for one Blue Planet.
I thank you very much.–ENDS
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