Labour mobility, fair and equitable air services agreements and upper airspace management initiatives were at the forefront of discussions at the Small Island States (S.I.S) Leaders Meeting yesterday.
Held at the conference room of Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel, the meeting was part of the build up to the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting which will be officially opened this evening.
Members of the Small Island States Leaders group include Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau and Tuvalu.
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, addressed the conference saying the presence of the leaders in Samoa attest to the unity of the Blue Pacific, the theme for this year’s Forum.
“Your Excellencies, you have repeatedly expressed your desire and commitment to strengthen the capacities of your countries to overcome challenges specific to S.I.S and as the first of the official meetings this week, this platform provides a space to discuss how the specific issues of S.I.S can be constructively tackled here, and effectively presented over the course of the week. One avenue to achieving this may be through the endorsement of the S.I.S Strategy’s companion implementation plan,” she said.
“The agenda before you contains issues of great consequence, and the topics of discussion contained within the S.I.S Officials Chair’s Letter to the Chair of this meeting have been incorporated in the provisional agenda and briefs before you.
“It includes recommendations on air services and labour mobility, initiatives that seek to bring S.I.S countries closer together. It also presents the possibility of joint-S.I.S proposals to the Green Climate Fund, an initiative which would require great cooperation, coordination and collaboration between the Secretariat and your respective administrations.
“In presenting the first annual progress report on the S.I.S Regional Strategy 2016-2020, I hope to shed some light on how we are facilitating the intentions of the Strategy through regional cooperation. Regionalism is as important to our agenda as ever.
“S.I.S positions on these issues cannot be overestimated. I, therefore, encourage you to take this opportunity to discuss and decide SIS position on the issues on your agenda today.”
The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister of Nauru, Baron Waka.
“This years’ theme for the Forum Meeting is The Blue Pacific: Our sea of islands – security through sustainable development, management and conservation. We all know that the waters that surrounds us is what sustain our islands and our people. We owe it to our children and their children to ensure that their future is one in which they can enjoy with happiness and with abundant blessings. I look forward to working with you all on the theme over the course of this week,” he said.
According to the Chair, the matters debated are of specific importance and of strategic value to the S.I.S, particularly in relation to the recently adopted S.I.S Regional Strategy.
“I encourage Leaders therefore that we coordinate our efforts to ensure that, where necessary, our decisions today are reflected and incorporated in the Forum Leaders Communique.
“I must emphasise on the importance of Leaders discussing and building solidarity on issues of common and special interest to S.I.S during the course of this week’s meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum. As the smallest members of the Forum, we must stand together and be firm on what we believe is important to our future.”