Desk officers from Smaller Island States strategise for 2013

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s desk officers from Smaller Island States are in Suva this week to develop a coordinated and complementary work plan for 2013.

Seeking improved delivery of their work on the ground, the desk officers from Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, and Palau met at the Forum Secretariat’s headquarters in Suva, Fiji, to map out their activities for the year.

The desk officers are nationals of Smaller Island States, placed within relevant Government ministries, and responsible for supporting Forum-related activities in-country. “It is important to ensure that Smaller Island States derive the fullest possible benefit from regional initiatives, particularly given their limited capacity and fragile and vulnerable environments,” said the Forum Secretariat’s Deputy Secretary General, Ms Andie Fong Toy.

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have consistently recognised the need to advocate the special and peculiar needs of Smaller Island States.

“The special assistance provided by the desk officers in engaging member governments and reporting on progress of the Pacific Plan at the national level is vital towards an agreement of strategies that will ultimately work in their favour,” said Ms Fong Toy.

“The Secretariat looks forward to coordinating relevant support to Smaller Island States, particularly with the Pacific Plan Review underway and the emphasis placed on developing a Smaller Island States Sub-Regional Strategy.” A key component of the workshop was the opportunity for the desk officers to contribute to the development of the Smaller Island States Development Fund Programme document.

“The Secretariat is currently in the process of finalising the document for approval by Smaller Island States Governments,” explained the Secretariat’s Development Coordination Adviser, Mr Alfred Schuster.

“Desk officers play an important role in identifying the practicalities of the proposed development fund arrangements and their input to this process is extremely valuable.” Desk officers this week identified some of their key successes of 2012, including the coordination of in-country missions, hosting national Pacific Plan information days and building of professional rapports with key senior government officials. They also shared their challenges and lessons learnt in 2012 for more strategic planning and implementation in 2013.

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For further information contact Mue Bentley Fisher of the Secretariat’s Public Affairs Unit via mueb@forumsec.org.fj