Delivered by the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Honourable Mark Brown
at the Smaller Island States (SIS) Leaders meeting
06 November 2023, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Kia Orana and welcome to the Cook Islands.
It is indeed, a great honour for the people and Government of the Cook Islands to welcome you all to Rarotonga for this 52nd Pacific Islands Forum and Related Meetings.
It is an opportunity to showcase our uniqueness as an island nation and to celebrate together, our solidarity as a region in our own Pacific Way.
At the outset, allow me to acknowledge the leadership of Tuvalu as SIS Chair since 2019. The last 5 years has not been an easy period for the region, but I am confident that we all recognise that we are at a momentous juncture in our history and there is a lot that we can achieve when we work together as a collective.
This year, the Cook Islands chose the theme “Our Voices, Our Choices, Our Pacific Way” as a tribute to our strengthening efforts to define our development trajectory and the types of partnerships required to support the achievement of our vision.
Indeed, the same can be said for our Smaller Island States Grouping.
While the agenda before us is brief, I am hopeful that we, as SIS Leaders, can use this opportunity to discuss and shape the future we see for this grouping in the Pacific Islands Forum, in amidst our evolving strategic context.
We have invested a significant amount of time and resources over the last few years in the development of the 2050 Strategy and its Implementation Plan.
Together, these will support a strategic collective approach to the achievement of our long-term vision. This is and should always be our collective priority as the Forum.
In light of this, the time is ripe for us to consider what role we see the SIS playing both now and into the future. What are our expectations of this grouping and of each other? How do we galvanise support addressing our unique vulnerabilities?
Whatever we decide, one thing is for certain, we must commit to and undertake our SIS objectives together and continue to support our shared aspirations.
Finally, and before I conclude, allow me on behalf of the Leaders present today to extend my warmest wishes to the people of the Federated States of Micronesia on your 37th Independence Day on the third of November. I invite our Colleague Leaders to join me in a round of applause.
Excellencies, Colleague Leaders,
I wish us all well in our deliberations today and indeed, for the rest of the week.