REMARKS: PIF Chair, Hon Mark Brown at the 2023 Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting

Opening remarks by the Pacific Islands Forum Chair and the Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Honourable Mark Brown

at the 2023 Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting

Suva, Fiji

 15 September 2023


Honourable Forum Leaders and Ministers of the Blue Pacific

Heads of Delegation


Ladies and Gentlemen


Kia orana and warm greetings to you all.

It is a great honour to be able to join this 2023 Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting as Chair.

Excellencies, please allow me to underscore that what we have been through and accomplished in the last three years is nothing short of extraordinary.

We developed and endorsed the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent as the overarching blueprint to advance Pacific regionalism for the next three decades.

And we did this all under the extreme pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, which we responded to with arguably the most robust national and regional frameworks globally, keeping the health and safety of our people front and center of our policies.

In the year 2050, those of us seated around the table certainly would have moved on from where we are today.

But our youth – our future Leaders – will look back at this period as a key moment in the history of the Forum. It is they who will reflect on whether our commitment to regionalism was enough to achieve the Vision for the Blue Pacific.

It is important to remember that in order for Pacific regionalism to work, we must be willing to work together to find common ground that positively contributes to the Leaders’ Vision.

We must all be prepared to exercise some flexibility – to be prepared to adjust – for the future prosperity of the Blue Pacific.

Today we will discuss a range of issues, from the geopolitical context in which we operate, to the opportunities and challenges presented by our priorities.

 Indeed, the theme that we have chosen for the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum, is reflective of the times that we are in: Our Voices, Our Choices, Our Pacific Way: Promote, Partner, Prosper.

 In my capacity as Forum Chair, I have had the invaluable opportunity to participate in various global fora, including the G7 Summit in Hiroshima in May and the ASEAN Leaders Summit in Jakarta just this last week.

 In the coming week, we will meet the world at the United Nations General Assembly, the annual meeting point of world leaders. We will also have the opportunity to meet, yet again, with President Biden and further on in the near future, the Annual Meetings of the World Bank.

 Excellencies and Colleagues,

 The strategic opportunities before us are great. The onus is on us to step up and grasp it. How we strategically engage as a region, is of utmost importance.

It is timely that with the ongoing regional processes, we will be able to find new and innovative ways to maximise the value of regionalism.

Indeed, a key deliverable this year will be the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan. Shortly we will consider an update on the progress made to ensure that a comprehensive and thoroughly owned and led document is ready for Leader’s consideration in November.

The Implementation Plan is a critical cog in the machinery to deliver the 2050 Strategy, and as tasked by Leaders, will shortly be accompanied by a Review of the Regional Architecture.

So, we have a Strategy.

We are at the cusp of endorsing a Plan.

And we will shortly embark on a journey to deliver the architecture – our regional Team – to deliver the 2050 Strategy and Implementation Plan.

While we have accomplished so much, there is still a long road ahead of us. I ask that we exercise foresight and keep these critical pieces of pending work at the back of our minds as we consider the prioritised agenda before us.

I encourage deliberations today to be open, frank, and embrace the visionary principles we need to ensure that we deliver meaningful outcomes for our people.

As I bring my welcoming remarks to a close, I know I speak for us all here when I send the full support and encouragement of the Blue Pacific to all the Pacific Teams competing at this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Just as we face in our line of work, our sporting teams face the same challenges and obstacles, with limited resources and opportunities when compared to other wealthier states.

But we are a resilient people. We punch way above our weight on the international scene, and I know our players will make us proud. All the very best to our Members waving the flags of the Blue Pacific in France.

Meitaki Maata, and I thank you.


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