by: Meg Taylor DBE, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
Leaders of the Blue Pacific recently endorsed the Pacific Sustainable Development Report. Significantly, it is the first report to look at the region’s progress since signing up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs) in 2015.
Pacific leaders have consistently highlighted the need for the SDGs to be contextualised to reflect the realities of life in the Pacific. Forum members worked collectively to develop a regional set of targets and indicators that accounted for national priorities. This enabled the region to monitor the its progress against not just the 2030 Agenda and SDGs, but also the SIDS Accelerated Modalities for Action (SAMOA) Pathway, the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, and other key global and regional commitments, including the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration.
The report highlights a need to increase the pace of progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. It emphasises increased vulnerability due to deep inequality. It recognises the region’s limited access to infrastructure and basic services.
The report also emphasises significant opportunities for accelerating our development. No one understands this region’s potential like we do. We have a long history of successfully adapting to change. We are custodians of significant biodiversity and oceanic resources. The report reinforces the immense value of our shared stewardship of the Pacific Ocean, and reaffirms the connection of our peoples with each other, and with their natural resources, environment, culture and livelihoods.
It is important to remember that we cannot achieve all our goals alone. Addressing our development challenges will require strong commitment to partnership and cooperation. including regional and international support. To build on, and accelerate, progress already made, there is a need for increased focus on:
This regional report complements national monitoring and reporting. Since 2015, Samoa, Kiribati and Australia have completed their Voluntary National Review processes and reported to the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu will report on their national progress in 2019.
As Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, I acknowledge with appreciation the efforts of our 18 member countries, the support of the CROP and UN agencies in the development of this report. I thank especially the Forum Secretariat, Forum Fisheries Agency, Pacific Community (SPC), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and UNDP for the significant resources that they have provided, for data, analytical and communications work for completing this report and accompanying publications.
As the first region in the world to take a ‘collective, coherent and coordinated approach to reporting on global and regional sustainable development commitments’, the Pacific is again showing leadership. This report will support Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ participation at the 2019 UN General Assembly Special Summit on the 2030 Agenda. More importantly, I trust that this report will trigger and be the catalyst for appropriate national and regional action, to address our challenges and seize opportunities that will accelerate our progress towards meeting our sustainable development objectives and aspirations.