Opening remarks by Denton Rarawa, Acting Director Programmes and Initiatives, Pacific Islands Forum
Project Launch of the Labour Mobility for Sustainable Development and Climate Change Resilience
convened by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and International Labour Organization (ILO)
29 November 2022
Good morning excellencies and distinguished guests.
On behalf of the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Mr Henry Puna, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the ‘Labour Mobility for Sustainable Development and Climate Resilience in the Pacific’ project launch and inception workshop.
In February 2020, Forum Trade Ministers endorsed labour mobility as a standing agenda item of the Trade Officials’ and Ministers’ Meeting and directed the Secretariat to undertake a comprehensive assessment of different labour mobility arrangements, including under regional and sub-regional trade agreements. In November 2022, the finalised comprehensive assessment was shared with Forum Members for endorsement out-of-session.
Labour mobility is a critical issue in our region.
It creates job opportunities and serve as an important source of income and remittance. These earnings support our people’s livelihoods – paying school fees, building homes, investing in community projects, and starting small businesses. In some of our members, this is an important component of their GDP. For example, in 2019, remittances made up 40% and 20% of Tonga’s and Samoa’s GDP respectively.
As global emissions rise, natural disasters increase, and our communities disappear under the sea, it also presents an adaptive strategy to mitigate the loss of livelihoods, productive land, and habitat security.
While labour mobility is central to the region’s COVID-19 economic recovery and climate crisis response, the arrangements must also protect our workers – economically, socially, and culturally. Our people deserve to work and live with dignity and respect.
The Secretariat looks forward to continuing to lead this work, with the support of all of you our partners here in the room. We welcome IOM’s and ILO’s commitment to supporting the development of a Regional Labour Mobility Strategy and Implementation Roadmap.
Strengthening labour mobility governance in the Pacific will contribute to the Pacific Aid-for-Trade Strategy 2020-2025, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal Eight of ‘decent work and economic growth’, and the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, specifically the thematic areas of ‘Resource and Economic Development’, ‘People Centered Development’, ‘Technology and Connectivity’, and ‘Peace and Security’.
It will also help us realise our Forum Leaders’ vision for 2050 – “a resilient Pacific Region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity, that ensures all Pacific people lead free, healthy and productive lives”.
I look forward to today’s discussions and wish you well in your deliberations.