Opening Statement by the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, at the Smaller Island States Officials Meeting

SECRETARY GENERAL’S STATEMENT

SMALLER ISLAND STATES OFFICIALS MEETING

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

22 July 2019

  • Distinguished Senior Officials of the Smaller Island States
  • Representatives of the CROP Agencies
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

I welcome you all to your Secretariat.

This meeting begins what will be a week of comprehensive discussions on issues facing the Pacific Islands Forum collective and how we will, together, navigate these challenges and opportunities for the benefit of our people.

In today’s context where climate change threatens our survival, multilateralism seems to be failing, and increased geopolitical competition in our region seeks to divide us, committing to the future viability of our region, and making this commitment together, is not only a challenging task, but one that is deeply political.

Your meeting this morning as the Smaller Island States (SIS) grouping provides a valuable opportunity to caucus on issues of importance to this collective. I encourage you to consider and identify the key SIS issues to be elevated for the further consideration of the wider Forum Membership through the Forum Officials Committee and the Forum Leaders for discussion and decision, where appropriate.

Building on the decisions and guidance of our SIS Leaders in 2018, today you will consider, reflect and assess the progress that has been made taking into consideration the resourcing available at the regional level to support collective efforts.

You will recall that on average, only 5% of total Overseas Development Assistance to the Pacific region is channeled through your CROP organisations – so it is essential that you are strategic in the decisions that you take and your ongoing support of its effective implementation.

In turning to the meeting at hand and the agenda before us – today you will consider a detailed review of the 2019 SIS Progress Report which takes into account all activities under the SIS Work Plan for 2018-2019 including an update on the 2018 SIS Leaders’ initiatives, the implementation of the SIS Strategy across all five priority areas, the engagement of SIS Officers since the 2018 review, and the SIS Attachment Programme. The comprehensive nature of this report is in direct response to the call by SIS Leaders in Nauru last year to reinforce the importance of continuity and follow up on previous taskings from past meetings.

You will also consider the outcomes of the Mid-Term Review of the SIS Strategy. Your guidance and clear advice to SIS Leaders on a revised implementation plan for the remaining eighteen months of the Strategy forms a very important item on your agenda today.

Finally, you will also have the opportunity to reflect on the agenda for the Pre-Forum Session of the Forum Officials Committee from an SIS perspective. The FOC agenda includes matters of key importance to the SIS such as the nuclear legacy issues, the implications of sea level rise on maritime boundaries, the proposal for a 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, and the proposed Regional Aviation Ministers Meeting as a platform to address and improve aviation safety and security in our region. I encourage your strategic consideration of how best to strengthen the Forum’s position whilst also accommodating your unique SIS interests in these key agenda items.

I wish you well in your deliberations.

Thank you.

-ENDS-