Pacific Islands Forum and Secretariat relevant

The Pacific Islands Forum and its Secretariat is as relevant today as it was forty years ago.

Addressing the Pacific Islands News Association/Forum Secretariat Forum Regional Media Workshop underway in Auckland, New Zealand, the Secretariat’s Deputy Secretary General, Mr Feleti Teo said: “Some people have questioned the value of the Forum and its Secretariat and whether we will still exist in 40 years. I would like to think so.”

“The Forum and its Secretariat has been part of a very dynamic region over the past four decades, and many of the challenges that we face can only be best addressed through regional integration and cooperation. There really is no other way,” said Mr Teo.

“The Forum is only a reflection of its Members, many of whom have a stake in regionalism and working together. Smaller Island States in particular have recognised the benefits that this region could accrue by working together and pooling their resources towards common objectives.”

Highlighting some of the achievements of the Forum in the past 40 years, Mr Teo said, “to have made it to forty is an achievement in itself.”

“In many ways, it shows the value and commitment of Pacific Leaders to the Forum and its unique capacity to support a consensus style of decision making – often referred to as the ‘Pacific way’. This has been one of our real strengths over the past 40 years – providing a space for countries in the region to discuss issues of common interest, learn from each other, and work together to tackle issues of common interest.”

Mr Teo highlighted some of the achievements in the Forum’s first 40 years as including:
• The return to peace and on-going stability in Solomon Islands as an outcome of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI);
• A nuclear-free Pacific region;
• The Pacific Plan endorsed by Leaders in 2005 for a renewed focus on regional integration and cooperation;
• Support for regional approaches on key global issues facing the regional including at global climate change talk;
• Establishment of the Forum Fisheries Agency for the effective conservation and management of the region’s tuna resources.

“So clearly there have been gains as a result of the establishment of the Pacific Islands Forum in 1971 and our work with partners in the region and across the globe,” said Forum Deputy Secretary General Mr Teo.

Some of the challenges facing the region in the next 40 years include:
• The impact of climate change and getting greater access to the billions of dollars in global sources of finance for adaptation and mitigation activities;
• Finding employment for the next generations especially with the high population growth in the region;
• Ensure that governments remain responsive to the demands of their people; and
• Ensure that democratic values and respect for human rights, which are a core part of the Pacific Islands Forum remains a feature of the region.

“I anticipate that the next forty years will not be easy. But we will be better placed as a region and people if we focus on our common interests, our strengths, and work together to make the Pacific region the best that it can be,” Mr Teo concluded.

ENDS

For media enquiries, contact Mr Johnson Honimae, the Forum Secretariat’s Media Officer on phone 64 (0) 221563078 or email: johnsonh@forumsec.org.fj