Breakthrough Moment in Port Moresby

For the first time civil society from across the Pacific Islands united in one voice and delivered their key advice to Pacific Island Forum Leaders in Port Moresby, PNG today.

In 2014 Forum Leaders endorsed, a new Framework for Pacific Regionalism and reached out for proposals that could become cornerstone initiatives for the work of Forum Leaders. Five key issues were selected from more than 68 proposals. With funding from the European Union and Australian Government, the Forum Secretariat invited civil society to consider their responses to the issues and present their deliberations to Forum Leaders.

Climate Change
The world’s attention will be on climate change in Paris in December 2015. At no other time has it been more critical for the Pacific Islands region to be heard.

“ We call on all Forum Leaders to unite in the Paris COP 21 and beyond in addressing the impacts of climate change that threatens the lives and existence of our people, islands and ocean. We specifically call on our friends in Australia and New Zealand to join this one voice for climate change with all Pacific Island nations,” said Ann Singeo, Elected CSO Spokesperson on Fisheries and Climate Change.

Fisheries
Insufficient economic returns from tuna fisheries have been recognized by Forum Leaders.

“We congratulate Forum Leaders in recognition of the need to increase economic returns from tuna fisheries, but this is not enough. It is only when we begin to realize the profound social benefits derived from our oceans that we begin to balance our use and management. Critically we must learn the lessons from poor returns and unsustainable tuna fisheries and ensure any new resources use such as deep sea minerals benefits our people and does not impact our environment. Forum nations need to take active stewardship of their whole-domain – from the ridge to reef, from the reef to ocean, and unite on issues of the high seas”, said Ann Singeo Elected CSO Spokesperson on Fisheries and Climate Change.

Cervical Cancer
There is broad recognition of the need to address cervical cancer prevention and treatment and that the current response is insufficient.

“As a Pacific Island woman, daughter, mother, sister, and aunty I know the need to remove fear of cervical cancer. This can be achieved through mobilizing resources of Forum countries and partners and we encourage this to happen. I don’t want any more girls to grow up with fear of cervical cancer”, said Emeline Siale Ilolahia, Elected CSO spokesperson on Cervical Cancer.
“We call on leaders to expand the focus on cervical cancer priority to include a broader focus on women’s health issues and non-communicable deceases, and promote cost effective solutions in saving women and girls lives.”

Information Communication Technology
Development in Pacific Island countries is severely constrained by lack of access to affordable modern information and communication technology. CSOs believe this should change, or the Pacific will become even more isolated.

“We call on Forum Leaders to endorse a master plan approach to resource and establish regional ICT infrastructure and associated industry in the Pacific. This means getting internet cables to countries like Kiribati, Tuvalu, Palau, and working to build cost effective access and career opportunities for our people in the connected world of modern communication technology”, said Adrian Winnie, CSO Elected Spokesperson on Pacific ICT.

West Papua
Civil society raised the human injustices being faced for more than fifty years by the people of West Papua for deliberation at this years Forum. Leaders from the Republic of Palau, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Papua New Guinea, heard CSOs share their belief that it was no longer an option not to address injustices and the need for self-determination in West Papua.

“We call on Forum Leaders to unite and recognize the shared moral responsibility of the region to our West Papuan brothers and sisters and to bring them home to the Pacific family of nations,“ said Murray Isimeli, CSO Elected Spokesperson on West Papua.

Civil Society Organisation engagement with Forum Leaders
CSOs welcomed the opportunity to engage in a new era of Pacific Regionalism and will carefully track how their input to Forum Leaders is being used this week.

“Engaging civil society in the Forum Leaders meetings is really about bringing us together in the Pacific way, and in a way that restores the links between the community and Leaders who belong to, and represent us. This enables Leaders to bring home policies that are real and meaningful for their people, “ said Murray Isimeli, CSO Elected Spokesperson.

In welcoming this new way of working between Forum Leaders, CSOs called for a long-term formal commitment to engagement based on transparency and dialogue in partnership.

Full CSO Statements on these issues can be found at:

http://grants.forumsec.org/index.php/2-uncategorised/16-cso-outcome-statements

For further information, or to arrange interviews please contact:

Crystal Johnston, NSA Programme manager, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. Email: crystalj@forumsec.org

Ann K Singeo : Elected CSO spokesperson for Climate Change and Fisheries by the CSO Forum, Executive Director, Ebiil Society, Republic of Palau email: annsingeo@gmail.com

Adrian Winnie: Elected CSO spokesperson on Information Communication Technology, National Coordinator, The Network of Callan Services, Papua New Guinea Email: APWinnie@edmundrice.org

Murray Isimeli: Elected CSO spokesperson for West Papua and CSO engagement, Pacific Conference of Churches. Email: isimeli@pcc.org.fj

Emeline Siale Ilolahia: Elected CSO spokesperson on Cervical Cancer, Civil Society Forum of Tonga. Email: esilolahia.esi@gamil.com