Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has cautioned the leadership of the Africa Caribbean Pacific (A.C.P) concerning the future of the group.
Speaking on behalf of Pacific countries at the 8th A.C.P Summit of Heads of States and governments held in Papua New Guinea, Tuilaepa said the meeting was a defining moment for the group and they need to make “informed and far-reaching decisions” for a better future.
“I am aware that the Eminent Persons Group under the able leadership of Chief Obasanjo will formally table its report during this Summit and that Council has considered and endorsed the Ambassadorial Working Group’s Report of the Future Perspectives of our Group,” Tuilaepa said.
“Clearly, the merging of the salient and practical recommendations of both reports on key strategic issues such as “foundation pillars” to guide our work post 2020 is, in our estimation, the way to proceed.
“But I caution against us taking decisions that we are not yet in a position to make regarding our future. There is too much at stake and too important a matter to be glossed over.”
According to the Prime Minister, the A.C.P must construct a future that will strengthen “global influence in key strategic areas” utilizing the group’s strength in numbers.
“To this end, it is possible to envisage a post-2020 A.C.P Group as a “cohesive force capable of articulating its shared concerns and interests in a participatory and inclusive manner at the global level.
“A Group with strong and effective institutions geared towards speedy and timely decision-making and implementation. A Group focusing on and embracing its constituents and development partners, capable of demonstrating its value-added and utility. A Group that will forge new links and strengthen existing ones”.
“One thing is certain – we shall face many challenges that will test our resolve and resilience as a Group in the coming years. Some will be familiar; others will be new and untested.
“But the common denominator is the imperative for us to meet them together and front-on with clarity of purpose and vision, unwavering commitment, renewed hope as was evident in Sipopo, and above all in unity and solidarity. There is no other choice but to succeed – it is a moral imperative and our duty to the people we are honoured to represent and to serve.
“We are a Group steeped in traditions that cherish our diversity, seek to uphold the rule of law and the principles of democracy and good governance, believe in the equality of opportunities for all our communities and above all in seeing poverty become a thing of the past and the attainment of sustainable development.
“We must never forget the hopes of our peoples, whether in the land continent of Africa, or the ocean continents of the Caribbean and the Pacific. For we all share a strong and common commitment to remove injustice and poverty.”
In other parts of his address, Tuilaepa focused on the implementation of Agenda 2030 and Climate Change.
“Climate change is an existential threat for all of our member countries that are low lying atolls. Population displacement – is fast becoming a reality and more importantly we must ensure that every avenue is explored to guarantee migration with dignity, should the need eventuate.
The world must realize and accept that saving small countries like Tuvalu and Kiribati from the adverse impact of climate change, is in effect saving our planet,” he said.
“The Sustainable Development Goals is our roadmap for the future. The A.C.P Group must learn from each other – share best practices and lessons learnt and wherever possible execute these responsibilities through south-south and triangular cooperation.
“As a family, we need to strengthen our resilience not only to climate change but other exogenous shocks whether they be natural disaster induced or economic and social in nature. The land is what defines us. It is integral and a part of who we are.
“Land rights, particularly in the context of developing countries, are inextricably linked with the right to food, the right to work and a host of other human rights.
In many instances, the right to land is bound up with a community’s identity, its livelihood, its very survival and a vital component of our particular way of life.”