Forum Secretary General calls for accurate reporting of Forum meeting

Rarotonga, Cook Islands- The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuiloma Neroni Slade has called for accurate reporting by the media of the decisions to be made at the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum which will be held in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands 27 – 31 August.

Mr Slade was speaking to a group of senior journalists from Pacific island countries who attended the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) – Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) Regional Media Workshop held in Rarotonga, 24 – 25 August.

The Forum Secretary General briefed the workshop on some of the major issues that will be discussed by Forum Leaders at their Retreat to be held on Aitutaki island on 29 August and some of the agenda items for the Smaller Island States Leaders’ Meeting and the meeting of Pacific ACP Leaders’ which will be held on 27 and 28 August.

“Forum Leaders have a very busy schedule of meetings ahead of them. The important responsibilities that you have as the media is to disseminate these decisions to the communities in the region in an informed manner, taking due consideration of the accuracy of your reports. This is extremely important, as the understanding, and views and opinions of our peoples are shaped by what you report,” Mr Slade told the journalists.

He urged the media to be focused on the Forum Leaders’ meetings and not to be distracted by non-Forum issues.

“The presence of media representatives from Pacific Island Countries at the meetings of Forum Leaders is important. You have an important responsibility and public service to communicate decisions made by Forum Leaders to communities in the region,” said Mr Slade.

Speaking on the theme of the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum which is, “Large Ocean Island States – the Pacific Challenge”, Mr Slade said: “The theme is most appropriate as it speaks to the very character of the Ocean that is home to us all, and to the challenges and opportunities for our region. It reflects and gives emphasis on oceans in the Rio+20 outcomes, as well as the priority of sustainable development goals on the global agenda. Indeed, it is a theme that corresponds to the Leaders’ vision for a Pacific of peace, a region of harmony, security and economic prosperity for all.”

The Forum Secretary General told the Media Workshop that some of the possible issues to be discussed at the Forum Leaders’ Retreat include:
• The Pacific Plan Annual Progress Report 2012 and proposed review of the Plan in 2012/2013
• Progress on the implementation of the Waiheke Declaration endorsed by Forum Leaders’ last year;
• The outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) and its implications on Small Island Developing States;
• Oceans issues;
• Climate change financing;
• Progress on the implementation of the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Cooperation (Forum Compact);
• Trade issues;
• Regional security; and
• Gender issues.

Forum Secretary, Mr Slade said the Smaller Island States Leaders’ Meeting, which will be the first in the series of the week-long meetings, will discuss issues including:
• the potential for a more strategic positioning of the SIS interests within the Pacific Plan in the proposed review of the Pacific Plan;
• SIS special requirements in climate change financing;
• sub-regional transport services, including shipping and air services;
• the importance of trade policy frameworks in guiding trade negotiations and agreements;
• tourism potential in the SIS; and
• the centrality of gender empowerment and equality in the achievement of national and regional outcomes. Leaders of Pacific ACP countries, that is, all Forum members, except Australia and New Zealand, will also meet as the Pacific ACP Leaders on Tuesday next week. Their discussions will focus on a range of key issues including:
• implementation of the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme under the European Development Fund;
• progress made on the Pacific Region’s negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union ;
• implementation of the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), and the conclusion of the PICTA Trade in Services negotiations;
• Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER ) Plus negotiations;
• Pacific Trade and Development Facility;
• Refresh and Renew process of the Pacific Aid for Trade;
• World Trade Organisation (WTO) issues relevant to the Pacific ACP countries, and
• Study to determine the effectives of ACP membership for the Pacific Region, including the proposal for the establishment of a regional Pacific office in Brussels.

Most of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have already arrived in Rarotonga to prepare for the meetings with the rest arriving in the next day or two.

ENDS.

For media enquiries, contact Mr Johnson Honimae, the Forum Secretariat’s Media Officer on phone 682 70945 or email: johnsonh@forumsec.org.fj