Delivered by Dr Filimon Manoni, Acting Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum
at the Building Sustainability in the Pacific Seminar
Monday 11 April 2022
Ni sa bula vinaka! Thank you to the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council (APIBC) for extending this invitation.
Firstly, thank you to Australia for your support to the region. To the APIBC and your support to the Pacific private sector, where you have council representation – in Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.
This seminar on Building Sustainability in the Pacific comes at a critical time. As we regroup and relook at how we move things along – at the forefront of this is the issue of sustainability and resilience – and the many forms it takes. Both of these are at the core of our recently completed 2050 Strategy of the Blue Pacific Continent.
The 2050 Strategy builds on this recognition that we have a shared stewardship in addressing climate change and that of protecting our Ocean. We are well aware that beyond COVID recovery, the biggest threat to all of us is climate change.
At the heart of this stewardship is collaboration with the private sector. Be it on climate financing and investments, more resilient infrastructure, and/or employment and considerations for greening of jobs.
Despite the Pacific’s negligible contribution to the global emissions level, our countries are punching above their weight. They have ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution targets under the Paris Agreement. The Pacific private sector access to global climate funds such as the Green Climate Fund is limited. But there is a key role for the private sector in supporting governments to achieve their climate targets. Innovative approaches and durable public-private partnerships are required to pave a pathway towards a resilience future for our Blue Pacific.
The Forum Secretariat has been working with national and regional private sector organisations to build capacity and gain support from government to facilitate improved access to climate finance. This has been through sub-regional workshops on climate finance, private sector mapping, and peer-to-peer exchange. There is still a long way to go and ongoing support from partners such as the APIBC is crucial.
A forward looking and innovative platform to promote private sector collaboration is the Pacific Resilience Facility (the PRF) – to collaborate as both donor and investor, as well as being a beneficiary, noting the fundamental challenges around insurance, mitigation efforts etc.
The PRF was endorsed by our Leaders and Economic Ministers in 2019. It is founded on principles of Pacific ownership, affordability and sustainable financing, and investment in community preparedness for climatic and disaster impacts. It offers a small grants for climate and disaster risk preparedness to ensure Pacific communities are safe and resilient.
A PRF Prospectus was launched in May 2021 detailing its governance and management structure. The capitalisation of the PRF is targeted at US$1.5 billion, to be raised through a global pledging conference planned later this year.
We have had consultations with more than 30 development partners and potential donors, and there is broad support. Financial contribution has been received from Turkey; and a pledge from New Zealand.
I am pleased to inform all that we have engaged former Prime Minister of New Zealand and former Head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Rt Hon Helen Clark as Special Envoy of the Pacific Island Forum for the PRF. She will be an important face of the PRF in resource mobilisation. PIFS would welcome any indication of support and contribution from the Government of Australia.
The pandemic exacerbated issues facing the Pacific private sector. I know your Councils have been in constant discussions bilaterally on efforts to resume business operations. Suite of issues have included border openings, and mobility in general. How are workers, businesspeople moving around in a timely fashion. Addressing these issues are core to business sustainability and long-term planning and resourcing.
A segway to briefly update you on labour mobility. In February 2020, Forum Trade Ministers endorsed Labour Mobility as a standing agenda item for Trade Officials and Ministers meetings. It also directed the Secretariat to undertake a comprehensive assessment of different labour mobility arrangements, including under regional and sub-regional trade agreements.
The draft Comprehensive Assessment is being finalised and will be shared to get Members feedback. The Assessment outlines proposed options to focus on the broad and inclusive regional platform and includes for example, a biennial regional Labour Mobility Symposium and this would be important for businesses to be part of.
I am informed that you have a close working relationship with our PTI Australia office. Australia remains a big export market for our Pacific exporters, and Australia also looks to the Pacific for its goods, services and investments, so mutual benefits to be expanded.
The PTI Network is the Pacific region’s lead trade and investment promotion agency. Alongside working directly with export clients, PTI collaborates with a range of government agencies, and private sector organisations to contribute to better business-enabling environment.
PTI recognises the ongoing rising importance of digital innovation and know-how. As such, the PTI Network is committed to being a digital leader and enabler. PTI Australia have been offering private sector sponsorship and scholarship programs as an example.
The pandemic saw the increasing uptake of e-services, ICTs and digital platforms and this no doubt, showcased resilience and adaptability. Furthermore, that ICTs infrastructure and investments for the long-term sustainability is crucial.
I wish you well in this seminar and look forward to hearing how we could work with you on progressing our shared agendas. To the APIBC and other business collectives – now more than ever we need to ensure that our businesses’ organisations remain relevant and strong to help the private sector as recovery efforts remain a priority.
Vinaka vakalevu and thank you.