Your Excellency and Chair of Conference, Premier Toke Talagi of Niue, thank you for this opportunity to make a few remarks to the 9th Conference of the Pacific Community, on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
I congratulate you, your Government and people of Niue, as well as the Pacific Community and its Secretariat for hosting such an important meeting.
Chair, Honourable Ministers and distinguished delegates. Fakaalofa lahi atu.
The Conference theme, “Resilient Pacific People – Turning the Tide” speaks to the heart of what Pacific Islands Forum Leaders envisioned through the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, endorsed at their meeting in Palau, in 2014.
The Framework for Pacific Regionalism articulates Leaders’ expectations that there be a prioritised regional agenda that strives for a higher level of ambition, and which would make practical and positive differences to the lives and wellbeing of all Pacific people.
The Framework also represents Leaders’ commitment for inclusivity and transparency in the development of regional public policy, enabling anyone in the Pacific to make submissions.
The Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism established to assess the public submissions is mandated to identify high level, game changing issues for Leaders discussion and consideration.
This new region-wide public policy process demands a paradigm shift in the way we engage Pacific people, undoubtedly our most valuable asset, in shaping the Pacific future we want, and to turning our region’s narrative to one of resilient Pacific people, who are proactive, innovative, and who can leverage political agreements that achieve sustainable development goals.
Chair, 2015 has been an important year for regionalism in the Pacific, with the Framework for Pacific Regionalism in its first year of implementation.
Leaders at their recent meeting in PNG endorsed for their oversight and commitment five priorities for regional action – on fisheries, climate change, information communications and technology, cervical cancer and West Papua. Each priority is a big challenge, and they are the kinds of challenges that the Forum was set up to face and address.
Pacific countries and territories, regional and international organisations, the private sector and civil society will all need to work together to advance the region’s agenda.
It will require close, concerted, collaborative and sustained effort between the Pacific Islands Forum and the Pacific Community, and Secretariats to realise and reach our Leaders aspirations for our region, which will turn the tide and will enable us to build a resilient region and people.
In this regard you can be assured that Dr Colin Tukuitonga and I, with our CROP colleagues have started and will continue to work closely together to deliver the regional results that are expected of us under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
One such demonstration of our collaboration with SPC and other members of the CROP Family is the development of an initial concept to respond to a recent Forum Leaders decision tasking the Forum Secretariat to lead a study in 2016 on regional governance and financing.
It is an endeavour to strengthen coherence and consistency of the governance, resourcing and partnership engagement in our regional efforts.
The success of regional governance and financing will depend on close engagement and collaboration between the governing councils of the various CROP agencies. We look forward to working with SPC to progress this important regional initiative in 2016, to improve cooperation, coordination and collaboration among the region’s intergovernmental bodies – a requisite for advancing regionalism and for achieving our shared objectives and development aspirations.
It will also require engaging with the range of non-state actors, regional and international organisations and other partners.
Next week, CROP Executives will have its fourth meeting for 2015, to discuss and advise a way forward for CROP within the new regional paradigm facilitated by the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
I can assure you that the new narrative of resilient people will be at the core of our deliberations.
Chair, the Forum Secretariat will continue to collaborate with SPC across the spectrum of regional and international issues where politics and development interface.
Chair, in closing, I would like to thank Director-General Dr. Colin Tukuitonga and the SPC staff for a productive 2014/15 period and for the continued collaboration and commitment to working with the Forum Secretariat and other members of the CROP family, as we seek to serve our countries as best we can.