The value of ongoing dialogue with civil society was recognized and reinforced by Forum Leaders when they met yesterday at the Regional Civil Society Breakfast in Pohnpei.
The breakfast meeting was led by Forum host and President of the Federated States of Micronesia, His Excellency Peter M. Christian. Also attending was Palau’s Minister of State Billy Kuartei, Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister Hon. Rimbink Pato, Samoan Prime Minister Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele and H.E Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of Marshall Islands.
Six representatives of Pacific Civil Society put forward their collective perspectives on current regional policy priorities. These included, climate change and disaster risk management, human rights violations in West Papua, regional disability development, labor mobility, and integrated sustainable management of our oceans, lagoons and marine resources.
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor said, “Through the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, Forum leaders called for an inclusive approach to policy development. This means engaging across the Pacific to make sure we are informed by a diverse range of viewpoints. This dialogue with civil society, which began last year in Papua New Guinea, has grown into an important and valuable part of work of the Pacific Islands Forum.”
Reflecting on the breakfast, Civil society representative Finau Limuloa said “I feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment with today’s outcome. I am grateful to the Forum Secretariat for facilitating this process, that met with the Leaders. It was a privilege to stand before the Leaders and engage with them on behalf of Pacific civil society as equal partners. I could not have hoped for a more positive and welcoming response by our Leaders.”
Regional CSO Representative and Coordinator of Chuuk Youth Council, Mr Mori M Mori said “I was quite nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but I could see that the presentations captured the Leaders attention. All the effort and hard work has paid off.”
Sport was also raised as a potential game changer for the region and a powerful enabler of sustainable development. “It cuts across the social, economic and political development of Pacific Island countries’, said representative Mathew Vaea. “sport has undoubted health and social benefits for the Pacific. As we battle an NCD crisis I believe this could be a effective way to address it.”
CSOs called on Forum Leaders to endorse the Pacific Regional Framework on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PFRPD) and called on development partners to work with the Forum Secretariat to support its implementation.
Mr Michael Din, used sign language to convey the disability positions to Leaders saying, “I believe our call has been received well by the Leaders today. I can see that everyone, especially the Forum Leaders, were in tune to our song and I thank them for their leadership at this time in our history. Their legacy will be a Pacific region where no one is left behind”.
The perspectives presented by civil society will be further discussed at the Forum Leaders retreat on Saturday 10 September in Pohnpei.
The civil society breakfast was supported by the Forum Secretariat’s Non State Actor Program funded by the European Union.
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Civil Society Position Paper on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management
Civil Society Position Paper on West Papua
Civil Society Position Paper on Regional Cross Cutting Issues
Civil Society Position Paper on Regional Disability Development
Civil Society Position Paper on Fisheries