Listening to the Voice of Civil Society

Hearing the voice of Civil Society is important in developing well informed regional policy for the Pacific. It is for this reason that the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the European Union have organised “The Civil Society Organisation Regional Forum” which beings today in Port Moresby.

“I am a major supporter of civil society, and I believe that a strong and vibrant civil society is important to our region,” said Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor at the opening.

“This event is important as it provides space for civil society to have input on some of the key issues that will be put to the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders. Many of you have been advocating for this kind of impact for some time, and I am pleased that we are able to facilitate this forum”.

European Union Ambassador for the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs, opened the forum, reiterating, “The European Union is proud to support this initiative. Promoting a strong voice for civil society and effective dialogue with leaders will result in more inclusive and effective development and benefit the people of the Pacific.”

The CSO Regional Forum is the first initiative implemented by the Forum Secretariat with the EU’s € 4 million programme “Strengthening Non-State Actors engagement in regional policy development and implementation”. Over the next four years the programme aims to work at engaging civil society across the Pacific and enable regional leaders to reflect on civil society’s concerns and perspectives.

More than 40 organisations are being represented at the CSO Regional Forum, with many travelling to Papua New Guinea from across the Pacific especially for the event.

Discussions are focussed around priority initiatives identified by the Specialist Sub Committee for Regionalism, which leaders will consider this coming week at the 46th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting. Issues addressed by the initiatives include climate change, West Papua, cervical cancer, information and communications technology, maximising returns from fisheries.

The forum aims to provide an opportunity for Civil Society Organisations from across the Pacific to convene, discuss specific policy issues, and provide governments and policy makers with evidence-based, collective positions on regional level policy.

At the forum’s conclusion, 25 participants, with at least one representative from every Forum Island Country, will attend a breakfast with the Forum’s Troika Leaders to present their deliberations.

This represents the first time Civil Society has had the opportunity to feed directly into the week long discussions of Forum Island Leaders.

ENDS

To download Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor’s speech to the Regional CSO Forum: click here

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