26 April 2018
Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. Building,
Palau International Coral Reef Center Koror,
Republic of Palau
Alii…Ungil Tutau…and Welcome to Palau!
On behalf of His Excellency, President Tommy Remengesau, the entire leadership and the people of Palau, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to Palau, for this 21st session of the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting. I hope that your travel here have been smooth, your accommodations satisfactory, and that our officials are taking good care of you. And I hope you all enjoyed the rock islands yesterday.
In recent years, our region has witnessed the increasing occurrence and related impacts of natural hazards – a direct result of climate change to our islands. This continues to take its toll on the livelihoods of our people and our
island economies, and the onus is on us to build resilient economies that will ensure a future for the generations after us.
The theme for this year’s Forum Economic Ministers is: “Building Economic Resilience of Pacific island countries through Sustainable Financing Flows”. It is encouraging to see that we, as a collective group, are taking ownership of progressing our resilient development ambitions.
We are putting into action what the founding fathers of the Pacific Islands Forum envisioned – that is, to find pacific solutions to pacific issues.
Discussions at this week’s meetings build on and demonstrate the collective, solution-oriented discussions espoused under the Blue Pacific identity that was endorsed by our Leaders in 2017. On the agenda for your consideration are two key initiatives for your constructive engagement and discussion: the Pacific Resilience Facility, and the Pacific Islands Climate Change Insurance Fund.
The novelty of the discussion on these two proposals is not just the proposal itself, but the fact that we are now taking demonstrated steps to address the key challenges that we face. It builds on initiatives like the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP), which has stamped the Pacific region’s mark as a global leader when it comes to coordinating efforts to build resilient communities and countries for our people.
The Republic of Palau has also demonstrated global leadership in particular on the Ocean, given its significance in the Palauan economy. We have taken strides to demonstrate our commitment to resilience through environmental conservation and ecological development.
The establishment of the Palau Shark Sanctuary, the Palau Marine Protected Areas and the recent enactment of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary are just some of the programs that our country has undertaken which show that we, as a nation, are serious about Ocean conservation. Under these programs, part of the fees levied are used for the specific purpose of environmental conservation and protection.
This year the Forum Economic Ministers will participate in the inaugural Regional and Development Donor Roundtable event, as mandated by Leaders in 2017. In doing so, we seek to encourage greater coherence in the work being delivered by partners in the region, and regional and national priorities.
To our development partners present here, I want to thank you for making the effort to travel to the Northern Pacific to join the Pacific Islands Forum in these discussions. I trust that the roundtable, to be held at the end of the week, will be constructive and fruitful exchange of views.
While development partnerships are key, stakeholder partnerships are also critical to the implementation of decisions taken at this forum. To strengthen inclusivity in our dialogues at the FEMM, the FEMM process included, in 2017, a Joint Dialogue with private sector and civil society stakeholders. We continue this commitment in 2018 and I encourage the frank exchange of views by all stakeholders.
Inclusivity is an important element of policy development today, and I am pleased to see it coming to fruition in our regional policy development processes.
Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen; you have a busy, yet well targeted agenda ahead of you for the next 3 days. I encourage you to use this time with your colleague delegations from across the region, to engage in good discussions that will set the platform for the development of sound policy that will benefit our pacific people.
Finally, I hope you will find time out of your busy schedule to see and enjoy what Palau has to offer, if you had not done do.
Thank you all and I wish you well in your deliberations. Mesulang!!