The Secretary General

The Secretary General acts as Secretary to the Pacific Islands Forum and is responsible for the management of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

The Secretary General is responsible, in close consultation with the Forum Chair and within the limits set by the Forum Leaders from time to time, for setting Forum Leaders’ Meeting agendas and coordinating responses by members to regional events, particularly crises.

The Secretary General also performs several other key functions which include being the Pacific Ocean Commissioner as well as being the Regional Authorising Officer. More information on both these roles is below.

The current Secretary General is Dame Meg Taylor of Papua New Guinea. She studied at the University of Papua New Guinea, and received her LLB from Melbourne University, Australia and her LL.M from Harvard University, USA.

She began her professional life as Private Secretary to Chief Minister Michael Somare during self-government of Papua New Guinea, and then during his tenure as Prime Minister at the independence of Papua New Guinea. She practiced law with the Office of the Public Solicitor and in the private sector, and served as a member of the Law Reform Commission.

She was Ambassador of Papua New Guinea to the United States, Mexico and Canada in Washington, DC from 1989-1994. In 2002, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Meg Taylor has served on the board of the Bank of Papua New Guinea and on the boards of a number of companies in Papua New Guinea in the natural resources, financial, and agricultural sectors, as well as on the boards of companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. She has also served on the boards of international conservation and research organizations.

She was appointed to the post of Vice President and Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the World Bank Group in 1999 following a selection process led by civil society, industry, and academia. Having set up CAO, which is a key part of the governance structure of the World Bank Group, Meg Taylor led the office for 15 years and established a rich body of work. CAO provides independent accountability and recourse for communities impacted by projects supported by the private sector arms of the World Bank Group – the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). Through her leadership, CAO has become internationally recognized for its cutting edge work in addressing corporate-community conflict around the globe, with a model that has been replicated by other multilateral institutions. She concluded her term at CAO in August 2014.

In August 2014, Dame Meg was appointed by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders as Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, a political grouping of 16 independent and self- governing states. She is the first woman to hold this post Dame Meg is also currently the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, and as such advocates for the secure future of Pacific people based on the sustainable development, management and conservation of the Pacific Ocean and its resources.

Dame Meg has recently been appointed to the High level steering committee on Every Women Every Child by the Secretary General of the United Nations.

What is the role of the Regional Authorising Officer (RAO)?

The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum of is the Regional Authorising Officer (RAO) for the Pacific ACP region.

The Regional Authorising Officer plays a significant role in the administration of the European Development Fund (EDF) for the Pacific members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (PACP) states.

Working closely with the PACP National Authorising Officers (NAOs) and with the European Union (EU) Delegations in the Pacific, the RAO’s functions are to programme, manage, implement and coordinate the Pacific Regional Indicative Programmes (PRIP).

The Pacific Regional Indicative Programme is the regional envelope through which regional projects are funded and administered under the EDF. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is the Duly Mandated Regional Organisation for the Pacific.

The Office of the RAO also leads and coordinates various regional working groups and facilitates the Steering Committee on the 11th EDF Pacific Regional Indicative Programme, in partnership with the EU.

Background and history of the Regional Authorising Officer

Formal cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the ACP states began in 1975 with the signing of the Georgetown Agreement. The PACP states have benefited from a number of financial programmes provided by the EU, including the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme.

In 1999, PACP Leaders mandated the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General as the RAO for the duration of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (until 2020). The Secretary General’s role as the RAO was again confirmed at the PACP Leaders Meeting in Rarotonga, Cook Islands in August 2012.

The role of the RAO is defined by the “Implementation and Management Procedures” outlined in the revised Cotonou Partnership Agreement 2005 (Article 35 of Annex IV). Because of the important functions, technical roles, and the overall coordination and management responsibility that the RAO performs, the RAO is supported by a team of technical experts.

A ‘Support programme to RAO’ provides necessary support to the RAO and the Pacific region in the implementation of the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme

What is the purpose and objectives of the Support Programme to RAO?

The overall objective of this programme is to contribute to poverty reduction in the Pacific via the strengthening of regional cooperation and integration.

The programme specifically seeks to enhance aid effectiveness by building capacity of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to fulfil its role as the RAO and increase the capacity of Smaller Island States (SIS), NAOs and Technical Implementing Agencies (TIAs).

What are the expected results for the Support Programme to RAO?

The programme is expected to ensure enhanced capacity of the RAO to coordinate, implement and report on the EDF Pacific Regional Indicative Programmes, and provide technical support to SIS, NAOs and TIAs in relation to EDF.

Strengthened and effective development coordination in the Pacific region; and increased visibility and awareness of EDF Programmes is also expected to be achieved through this programme.

Our Ocean, Our Future

For the people of the Pacific, the ocean is everything – life, culture, security, safety, prosperity, health and wellbeing.

But the Pacific Ocean is under threat from such things as overexploitation, habitat damage, pollution, and climate change – requiring urgent action and innovative approaches.

Pacific Ocean Commissioner

The Pacific Islands region is rising to the challenge. Work is underway to implement a world-leading, shared approach to ocean management, led by the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, Dame Meg Taylor (also Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat)

The approach has the backing of 22 Pacific Island Countries and Territories under the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape, and incorporates over 40 million square kilometres of ocean and islands – bigger than the land-mass of China, Canada, USA, India and Australia combined.

The Commissioner is working to unite Pacific countries and territories through sustainable ocean management and use across this vast area – with a focus on coordination, collaboration and integration.

The initiative has the potential to be transformative for the region, with positive ramifications right across the globe.

The Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner

A small, dedicated, team of ocean experts supports the Commissioner. The Office’s role includes:

  • Enhancing coordination, collaboration and integration – with a focus on development effectiveness and improving return on investment.
  • Assisting the Commissioner to undertake high level-advocacy and awareness activities.
  • Providing expertise and support to Pacific Island Countries and Territories on cross-sectoral ocean issues, such as biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
  • Developing coordinated approaches to measurement and reporting – lifting accountability.
  • Promoting Pacific Island Countries and Territories establish maritime boundaries and extended continental shelves.
  • Analysis of linkages between oceans and climate change, ensuring the Pacific is well placed to meet the challenges ahead.

In addition, technical and scientific support for the Commissioner is also provided by the CEOs of relevant Pacific regional organisations (CROP Agencies), particularly the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) and the University of the South Pacific (USP), and through their CROP Marine Sector Working Group.

Achievements

As a result of the commitment of Pacific Leaders, a great deal has already been achieved:

  • Pacific Island Countries and Territories endorsed the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape – a guiding approach to ocean management that includes clear goals and activities, within a framework to track and measure progress and enhance accountability.
  • Established the Pacific Ocean Alliance – A network of private, public and civil sector representatives acting together to advance approaches to integrated ocean management.
  • High profile international ocean advocacy – Pacific Ocean Commissioner has pushed ocean management onto the international agenda at forums across the globe.