News 11 Aug 2017
A series of important preparatory meetings concerning development in the Pacific region have gotten underway ahead of the upcoming 48th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders Meeting and related gatherings in Apia, Samoa during the week of September 4-8.
On August 7, the ownership of the regional development agenda and ensuring inclusive mechanisms in the implementation of the Smaller Island States Strategy 2016 – 2020 underpinned the Smaller Island States Officials (SISO) Meeting at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).
The Smaller Island States Leaders Meeting is scheduled for September 5 in Apia, and in preparation, the SISO Meeting considered the first annual progress report on the five priority areas identified in the SIS Regional Strategy 2016-2020, which was endorsed by SIS Leaders in Koror, Palau last year.
The eight members of the Smaller Island States group are Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.
Smaller Island States officials discussed issues around fair and equitable air services agreements and upper airspace management, labour mobility, collective approaches to effectively accessing climate change-related funding opportunities, and the importance of ensuring a “whole of government” approach in progressing the SIS Strategy.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor says the Strategy offers SIS members key opportunities.
“These include strengthened strategic focus on implementation, with particular regard to the key actions where there is a readiness to implement, and to exercise greater influence through garnering collective political attention and higher level political action,” she says.
This Strategy underlines strengthened links with the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, through one of its pillars: the Regional Public Consultation Process, and the meeting discussed more effective modalities to increase the engagement of SIS with the Secretariat in this process.
The Pacific ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) officials meeting at the Forum Secretariat, the Forum Officials Meeting, and the Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting (FFMM) which discussed current geopolitical trends and what they mean for the Pacific region have also taken place during the last week.
A focus has been on how Foreign Ministers can work together to advance the Forum’s foreign policy priorities, and to strengthen the voice of the Pacific in international affairs.
New Zealand's Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has attended the FEMM in Fiji, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa the Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.
“As Foreign Minister I’ve made meeting with – or talking to – my Pacific counterparts a priority,” Minister Brownlee says.
“This visit will help strengthen New Zealand’s interests and relationships in the Pacific, including our support for economic development in the region.
“The Forum provides an opportunity for us to work with our Pacific neighbours on common challenges, including regional security, fisheries management and climate change," he adds.
The FEMM lays much of the groundwork ahead of of next month's PIF Leaders Meeting.
(Photo caption: Dame Meg Taylor, centre, discusses the SIS Strategy. Credit: Pacific Secretariat.)