REMARKS: SG Puna, Indonesia-Pacific Forum for Development

REMARKS BY THE PACIFIC ISLANDS SECRETARY GENERAL

HENRY PUNA at the
INDONESIA – PACIFIC FORUM FOR DEVELOPMENT
“Grow and Prosper Together”

Nusa Dua, Bali 7 December 2022

• Her Excellency, Retno Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs
• The Honourable Dalton Tagelagi, Premier of Niue
• Honourable Ministers
• Heads of Delegations
• Senior Officials
• Ladies and Gentlemen

• Kia Orana to you all. I bring warm greetings from the Pacific Region.

• I am very honoured to join you at this Indonesia Pacific Forum for Development this morning, to share my own reflections on partnerships, cooperation and solidarity for economic development.

• May I acknowledge, at the outset, the initiative by the Government of Republic of Indonesia to convene a dialogue such as this, to frame and inform its development cooperation initiatives in our Pacific region.

[Our current economic context]

• Excellencies,

• The Pacific, like the rest of the world, continues to grapple with recovery from the deep impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our island economies.

• The pandemic exacerbated existing vulnerabilities within our national systems, emphasising the systemic issues around volatile or low growth trends, narrow-based economies and restricted resources, and our high vulnerability to disasters and climatic risks – all while facing inhibiting production costs, particularly infrastructure costs.

• On this very premise, and faced with significant economic downturn, national governments across the region formulated fiscal stimulus packages to assist the most vulnerable households and businesses to support and drive economic activity. While absolutely necessary, these steps have also left us with a range of debt ridden economies right across the region.

• Today, borders have reopened, including in our smallest island countries, and nations continue to progress economic recovery strategies at the sectoral, national and regional level. Indeed, this has only been possible with the support of our development partners both at the bilateral and multilateral level. Reaffirming, once again, the value and importance of development partnerships in our region.

• Excellencies,

• One thing is for certain. The pandemic has reaffirmed the vitality and importance of strengthening economic resilience so that we are better equipped to face future shocks.

• We must therefore work toward an economic resilience that is underpinned by strengthened collaboration and partnerships between the region’s public and private sector, state-owned enterprises, non-state actors and our development partners.

• Together, we can achieve robust and responsive economic strategies that will ensure resilience and foster economic prosperity.

[Regional Frameworks and Strategies in place]

• Recognising the value and strength of a collective approach to recovery, Forum Leaders reaffirmed the importance of Pacific regionalism through the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent in July this year.

• The Strategy is for us, a political strategy for collective action framed around 7 thematic areas which together will support the achievement of the Leaders Vision.

• Complicit in the Strategy is the development of the Pacific Roadmap for Economic Development which will bring together our collective approach towards and for economic prosperity.

• The Roadmap will be a key policy deliverable for the Forum membership in 2023 and will be considered by our Leaders when they meet in Rarotonga Cook Islands in the next year.

[Navigating our current strategic context]

• I am sure we can all appreciate, the key to a successful policy or initiative is political will, strong partnerships and effective implementation.

• Excellencies,

• This brings me to the next point of my reflection this morning – the strategic context that we currently navigate and operate in, in our Pacific region.

• I am confident that we can all agree that the increased strategic interest in our region in the last five years in particular, has generated increased attention by global partners in the Pacific region, including Indonesia itself.

• We have seen heightened levels of engagement from major world economies such as the United States, China and Korea. Indeed, in my view, heightened interest brings with it the potential for strengthened cooperation.

• With our 2050 Strategy in place, we will continually look to frame our collective partnerships and engagements in support of the Leaders vision as articulated in the 2050 Strategy.

[A New Era of Partnerships]

• We are in a new era of partnerships.

• Yes, the challenges we face in the region are complex and multi-layered, but the opportunities and leverage that we as a Pacific region garner in this strategic environment is also unprecedented and something that we continue to navigate together, as a collective, in the interest of our people.

• I think it is safe to summise that long-gone are the days when our partnership models were driven by partner interests in our region.

• Today, we are consistently calling on all partners to work with us to jointly develop and shape their regional strategies and priorities in support and address the challenges we have identified within the region and advance our mutual priorities. Fundamental to these models of partnership are trust, ownership and accountability.

[Conclusion]

• In conclusion Excellencies,

• We all recognise and appreciate that development cooperation resourcing is constrained in our current global economic context. Now more than ever, it is critical that we ensure that the resources that are available are used efficiently and effectively, to maximise its utility.

• To that end, I cannot underscore enough the absolute importance and the value of joint dialogue and collaborative partnerships to overcoming the complex challenges that we continue to face in ourPacific region.

• I thank you very much.–ENDS