Delivered by the Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Hon Mark Brown
at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders and CROP Heads Meeting
o7 November 2023, Rarotonga, Cook Islands.
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum
Heads of CROP Agencies
It is not often that we have the opportunity to gather as Leaders and Heads of Regional Agencies tasked with the implementation of our collective decisions and priorities.
As outlined in the CROP Charter, this engagement provides the opportunity for Forum Leaders to meet with CROP Heads who will report and provide policy advice on the implementation of the Leaders priority initiatives.
In many ways, while Leaders carry the aspirations of collective action in the Pacific, the very realisation of this vision lies with you – our regional agencies. You who are privileged with the role of advising, developing and implementing our collective decisions and instructions.
It is not a task that can be or should be taken lightly.
As a region, we have come together to develop the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. We have, with your support, articulated the regional collective actions that now make up the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan. We will now rely on your leadership to ensure that these priorities are implemented and progressed in the coming years.
Let me be clear – the 2050 Strategy is not and will not sit on a shelf to gather dust.
If it is to truly guide our collective aspirations, it will require dedicated and consistent support to implement and this is something we cannot do alone as countries.
You, our CROP agencies, are vital to the realisation of our collective vision in the 2050.
Our collective expectations of the CROP are simple: coordination, collaboration and delivery of our regional priorities.
We can all appreciate the complexities and hurdles to achieving these, but it is now imperative that we work towards meeting these three objectives.
The continued refinement and reform of our CROP system is a vital and necessary first step to ensure that each of our agencies, and the network as a whole is fit for purpose to deliver on the 2050 IP and the Review of the Regional Architecture will be critical to our efforts to ensure that this is the case. but as we are all too familiar in the Pacific, the effectiveness of our systems depends on the personalities who lead these very systems – in essence our Heads of CROP agencies.
Yes, as Members, we are your shareholders – but we also remain the primary beneficiaries of your work.
The history and nature of “Our Voices, Our Choices, Our Pacific Way” is captured everywhere in your respective organisations – the history of decisions taken; in our collective achievements, as well as our lessons learned.
We must learn from our history, challenges and lessons learned in order to shape how we move forward together, and stronger.
The effective delivery of the 2050 Strategy and its Implementation Plan requires all of us to forge new and innovative ways of working together, but also requires us to strengthen how we currently interact, how we prioritise and how you as CROP agencies work with one another.
It requires effective resource mobilisation and policy alignment. It requires strategic and effective partnerships, predictable financing, and ‘fit for purpose’ systems and capabilities at both regional and national levels.
At the political level, Cook Islands hopes that with the endorsement of the Pacific Partnerships for Prosperity, this will provide a political prioritisation mechanism that is driven by Members to chorale new financing and partnerships.
I would hope that together we can build on these innovative ideas to strengthen how we work together and for our Pacific people. Because we need action.
We do not want to see more proliferation of regional strategies and frameworks.
We need to see a greater focus on the implementation of existing strategies and
We also need to see the clear alignment between regional strategies to our national development plans; greater alignment between the decisions of our regional governing councils; and greater alignment in how we engagement in the global arena.
With those few words, and before we turn to the agenda before us, I will invite the media to take their leave, as we prepare to turn to Agenda Item 2.