RELEASE: Pacific Islands Forum Chair addresses the 18th East Asia Summit

Photo Credit: ASEAN

Jakarta, 7 September 2023 – Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, the Honorable Mark Brown, delivered a compelling address at the 18th East Asia Summit, where he highlighted the significance of the Pacific region and addressed critical issues facing the Blue Pacific.

Speaking to the theme Strengthening Regional Architecture to Support the Epicentrum of Growth, Prime Minister Brown underscored the vital role of the ocean to the Blue Pacific Region.

“In the Pacific we don’t have to look far to pinpoint the epicentrum of our growth –it is the Blue Pacific Ocean. It is from our Ocean that we derive our history – our connection to each other – our culture – our livelihoods – our being as Pacific peoples. As large oceanic states, we are custodians of nearly 20 percent of the earth’s surface, and we place great cultural and spiritual value on our ocean and land, as our common heritage.”

He acknowledged the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated vulnerabilities in island economies and emphasized the need for economic resilience and partnerships to strengthen economic strategies to ensure resilience in the face of future shocks.

“In fact, this is one of the key reasons why we are here today at this 43rd ASEAN Summit – to foster a new relationship, to strengthen cooperation and to nurture a partnership between the Pacific Islands Forum and ASEAN that will drive development and growth in our regions”.

Prime Minister Brown called for a dynamic regional architecture capable of addressing critical collective issues and noted climate change, environmental protection, economic development, regional security, and peace as outlined in the 2050 Strategy for a Blue Pacific Continent as key areas for collaboration.

He commended the formalization of the relationship between the Pacific Islands Forum and ASEAN in the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding noting its significance as a step forward in forging cooperation and unity between the two regions.


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