Remarks by the PIF Acting Secretary General, Dr Filimon Manoni
at the 7th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability
Tanoa International, Nadi
Tuesday 28 February 2023
• Honourable Sakiusa Tubuna, Assistant Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office,
• Distinguished delegates,
Bula Vinaka and warm greetings to you all.
1. It is an honour to be here with you today, to share brief remarks on behalf of Secretary General Henry Puna.
2. This year’s Conference is a significant one for us as it marks the first time that the Forum Secretariat is partnering with the Pacific Disability Forum in the hosting of this Conference – further strengthening our already close collaboration and partnership. It brings to life the adage: “Nothing about us without us”.
3. This Partnership has allowed us to bring our government disability focal points together with organisations of persons with disabilities, development partners, and stakeholders who include disability inclusion as part of their work.
4. The 2nd Quadrennial Pacific Sustainable Report of 2022 indicates that our Pacific countries are falling short of the goals of the 2030 Agenda; and though we have progressed in some areas, the fact is that vulnerable communities in the Pacific continue to experience exclusion.
5. COVID-19 and the worsening impacts of climate change have exposed just how vulnerable our communities are. But they have also shown us that we are stronger when we work together.
6. The 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent sets out our Leaders vision for a resilient Pacific Region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity, that ensures all Pacific peoples can lead free, healthy and productive lives is only possible if we work together. This Strategy pulls on our shared strength as a region.
7. It highlights our ambitions for the next few decades and frames our regional cooperation around key thematic areas.
8. Importantly, it also sets out the importance of progressing disability inclusion as we take forward our wider regional agenda.
9. And in this context, I also look forward to considering the findings of the Pacific Disability Forum’s 2nd SDGs/CRPD Monitoring Report that are to be launched today. This report is important because it provides critical data to our national and our regional interventions related to disability inclusion, and to ensure these interventions are responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities.
10. The first SDGs and CRPD Monitoring Report informed the first Biennial Pacific Sustainable Report released in 2020, highlighting the efforts that government, Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and other stakeholders have taken towards the disability inclusive implementation of the SDGs, CRPD and the PFRPD. It also highlighted that more needs to be done to ensure meaningful engagement and participation of OPDs and persons with disabilities in all actions that impact on their lives and livelihoods. These reports and actions under the PFRPD will inform the actions, themes and pathways of the 2050 Strategy of the Blue Pacific Continent to ensure disability inclusion is central to its implementation and monitoring.
11. For CROP agencies, development partners, and other stakeholders in the region – it has never been more critical that we work in a coordinated and collaborative way through the 2050 Strategy to ensure that we support our governments and organisations of persons with disabilities to ensure that inclusion is always part of the equation, not just an afterthought.
12. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the Conference this week is an opportune time for national government disability focal points, organisations of persons with disabilities, advocates, development partners – indeed all of us – to come together to share experiences and challenges and discuss potential ways that we can all work together to progressively realise the rights of persons with disabilities and to ensure that a secure, healthy, prosperous future is within their reach.
13. We are also fortunate that this year the Conference is being held in person, after COVID-19 forced us to have virtual interaction for the last couple of years. This is a time to rekindle acquaintances and friendships and to make new ones.
14. It is my hope that the week ahead will be a time of shared learning, planning, and comradeship. We can only progress as a region if we work together for persons with disabilities and all Pacific peoples.
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