Delivered by the Acting Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dr Filimon Manoni
at the Opening of the 2023 Regional Civil Society Organisations Forum
31 July 2023, Suva, Fiji.
Iakwe, Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
I am so pleased to see many familiar faces in the room this morning.
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the Forum Secretariat, and indeed to this critical platform, the 2023 Regional Civil Society Forum. Since the last Forum, much has transpired, and over the next two days you will have much to discuss, and a busy schedule of upcoming events to plan for.
Indeed, for some time now, we have often referred to the unprecedented nature of the circumstances in which we meet. While the COVID-19 situation has abated to some extent, we in our blue Pacific continue to find ourselves grappling with familiar issues, but sometimes within new and unfamiliar territory.
We all recognize the urgency of the climate crisis. Just last week the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, stated that the era of global boiling had arrived after scientists confirmed July was on track to be the world’s hottest month on record.
Ongoing Nuclear Issues. I certainly don’t have to convince you of the historical and imminent threats of nuclear contaminants, and the very real threat that Japan poses as it plans to dump ALPS treated radioactive nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean commencing 2023.
Geopolitics. The Pacific continues to navigate an intensifying level of geostrategic interest both at the regional and national levels, and the challenges and opportunities they bring for our Blue Pacific.
Indeed, a contemporary list of our shared regional priorities goes on.
Ladies and Gentlemen, rest assured that CSO engagement with the regional policy landscape and regional priorities is important to our Leaders, and I commend you for continuing to ensure that your voices are heard through shared platforms. As Leaders have reiterated at their annual retreat, Civil Society are a critical partner in achieving the Leaders’ long-term vision for the Blue Pacific.
Many of you will know that last year Forum Leaders endorsed the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent as the blueprint to advance Pacific regionalism and its priorities for the next three decades.
Since we last met, the formulation of the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan, of which a number of you here have been involved, is nearing completion. I see from the agenda that Secretariat staff will be providing you with an overview of the process to date. I encourage you all to use this space to discuss how we can all work together to deliver the 2050 Strategy and its implementation plan. Without Civil Society partnership, the Strategy will not fully succeed.
In closing, may I take this opportunity to say a final goodbye to you in my current role as the Deputy Secretary General of the Forum. Today is my final day as the DSG, and I wish to convey from the bottom of my heart my appreciation for your continued dedication and love for our Blue Pacific.
Between state and non-state actors, I think it is fair to say that at times there will be friction – there will be challenges. However, in the years I have been privileged to serve the region, I am amazed at how far our engagement and partnerships have come. It is my hope that we continue to foster this partnership, for the benefit of our people.
As we enter the busy end of the year, I wish you all the very best as you prepare to engage at the Forum Economic Ministers meeting in a weeks’ time, and the Forum Leaders meeting in November in the Cook Islands.
Civil Society representatives, it is here that I will sign off in my engagements with you as the Deputy Secretary General, and I look forward to working with many of you as I take up the role as Pacific Ocean Commissioner.
With sincere appreciation for your ongoing contributions to the Blue Pacific and its people, I thank you.