REMARKS: Forum SG Henry Puna Opening Remarks, FEMM 2023

Opening Remarks by 

Pacific Islands Forum SG Henry Puna 

at the 

9 – 10 August 2023

Hon. Mark Brown, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Cook Islands, and Chair of this Forum Economic Ministers Meeting
Hon. Teuea Toatu, Vice President and Minister of Finance for Kiribati
Hon. Biman Prasad, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance for Fiji
Distinguished Finance Ministers and Heads of Delegations
Excellencies and Senior Officials
Members of the Diplomatic Corp
Ladies and Gentlemen

Kia Orana and Bula vinaka to you all.

1. I am honored to welcome you all to your Secretariat and to this year’s Pacific Islands Forum Economic Ministers Meeting.

2. At the outset, allow me to acknowledge the Minister for Finance and Economic Management of the Government of Vanuatu for steering our vaka in the past year. The Government of Vanuatu’s leadership over the past year has seen the substantive progress in a range of ministerial decisions from our last meeting.

3. Without a doubt, our region faces numerous challenges, but it is also filled with immense potential. This Meeting provides us with a unique opportunity to consider and discuss pressing issues facing our region, chart a course for sustainable development, and foster stronger regional economic cooperation.

4. We have a comprehensive agenda before us and I look forward to the robust exchanges that we will witness in the next few days.

5. That being said, allow me to acknowledge the discussions that have emerged from our Officials Meetings on the need to rationalise, prioritise and streamline our deliverables.

6. As outlined yesterday by your Secretariat Team – we have heard you.

7. We hear your concerns on the proliferation of regional strategies and frameworks and the need to focus on implementation of existing policies. We hear your call for stronger alignment between national development plans and regional policies, including the regional governance framework.

8. And, we take on board the capacity constraints at the national level, in particular in our Smaller Island States and the need to strengthen engagement at the national level to ensure stronger visibility and awareness of the 2050 Strategy in-country.

9. Allow me to add my assurances to those made yesterday that these issues will be taken into account in the shaping of the Implementation Plan of the 2050 Strategy, the Review of the Regional Architecture, the Pacific Roadmap for Economic Development, and other regional policies.

10. In turning to the agenda before you.

11. Honourable Ministers, amongst your considerations today will be the re-design of the Pacific Resilience Facility. This is an initiative that has been regionally led and developed. It is an instrument by the Pacific and for the Pacific.

12. I call on us all, collectively, to progress robust discussions on this proposal over the next two days with a view to ensuring that we are able to take a final product to our Forum Leaders for their consideration and endorsement when they meet in Rarotonga in November.

13. That said, I encourage open and constructive dialogue. Let us leverage our diversity and shared values to find common ground and collaborate effectively. Together, we can we develop innovative and impactful solutions to the challenges before us.

14. In conclusion, allow me to acknowledge the strong support of our member countries, development partners, and international organizations for your unwavering support in advancing our collective priorities. This 26th Economic Ministers Meeting is testament to our commitment to collective action and regional solidarity.

15. I wish you all fruitful deliberations and please remain assured that your Secretariat stands ready to support you.

16. Meitaki ma’ata, Vinaka vakalevu, thank you.

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