OPENING STATEMENT BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL
Dame Meg Taylor
Smaller Island States Leaders Meeting
3 September 2018
At the outset, may I acknowledge His Excellency, President Baron Waqa and the people of Nauru for hosting us for this 28th Meeting of the Smaller Island States Leaders here in Aiwo, Nauru.
I also thank Reverend Roger Mwareow and the children’s choir for opening our deliberations with a moving devotion this morning.
Excellencies the agenda before you is concise but it requires critical reflection, discussion and decision effectiveness of the grouping to advance of your priorities going forward.
Key considerations include, how best to reposition the SIS grouping as a strategic actor, within the Forum and beyond.
With the ongoing shifts in the geopolitical environment and the heightened interest in our region it is no secret that our strength lies in our collective will and solidarity – a collective will which is reflective of the needs of the smallest and largest of our economies.
In noting so, I acknowledge that collective action will always require some flexibility on sovereign issues. I am also confident that we all recognise that this flexibility is sometimes necessary for the advancement of regional priorities that address the common challenges that face our countries.
Excellencies, the SIS Regional Strategy 2016-2020, articulates the priorities that you have considered together and agreed upon as requiring your collective attention. Unfortunately, in the last twelve-months progress to implement the Strategy has become challenging and beyond the Secretariat’s jurisdiction. The solutions rest with your national governments.
Therefore, your meeting today is an important opportunity to reaffirm and reinvigorate your commitment to your SIS Strategy. The closed retreat session provides a further opportunity to bring to the fore your unique experiences on the challenges, successes and vulnerabilities that you share – I trust that you will utilise this opportunity to its fullest potential.
I would be remiss of me if I did not acknowledge the contribution of your Senior Officials to the agenda before you today and the development of the strategic recommendations tabled for your decision.
I trust that it will guide a focused discussion on the collective effort required to effectively implement SIS priorities and reaffirm that greater influence requires from us less fragmentation, greater political attention and higher level political action as a collective.
In closing, I take us back to the SIS Leaders meeting, two years ago, where your determination and ambition materialised in the development of your SIS Strategy. I am confident that this will continue to be the measure of what lies ahead for the SIS grouping.
I wish you well in your deliberations.