Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi has appealed to Pacific Island nations to remain united in the face of shared challenges and aspirations for a better future.
He said this when handing over the chairmanship of the Pacific Islands Forum to Nauru President Baron Waqa, at the official opening of the 49th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit in Nauru.
“We must remain united in the face of shared challenges as well as in our shared aspirations for a better future for all of our countries and Pacific peoples."
“If we are to deliver on the regional agenda we set over the coming days, our collective action and cooperation in for a beyond the Forum will be essential, and our advocacy robust and confident,” he said.
Tuilaepa said the theme of the conference “Building a Strong Pacific: Our People, Our Islands, Our Will” is both fitting and timely for the occasion.
“Building a stronger Pacific is at the heart of the calls for inspired leadership and a long-term commitment to maintaining a strong, collective voice and action on issues vital to our Blue Pacific."
He said Samoa hosted the last Leaders Summit and a key decision taken was to reaffirm the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and promote the Blue Pacific identity as a core driver of the region’s collective action.
“We are faced with many challenges. These include climate change, sustaining our fisheries and tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, promotion of good governance, improving the lives of those who still live in poverty, reducing non-communicable diseases and of promoting a healthy Pacific, border security, the youth bulge, pollution and waste disposal … the list goes on."
“Our Blue Pacific narrative recognises that we cope better when facing these challenges together. The Blue Pacific encourages strong and stable Pacific leadership for a strong Pacific region."
“The Blue Pacific sees our shared geography, culture, and resources as great strengths. We must draw on these common riches to build opportunities for the sustainable development of our people and our region,” he added.
The Prime Minister said during his tenure as chairman, he took every opportunity to advocate for enhanced strategic engagement among the Pacific Island nations leadership in order to inspire stronger Pacific regionalism.
“The collective positioning of our members during crucial meetings with the Republic of Korea, Japan, United Nations Secretary General, and Commonwealth Heads of Government, resulted in wide acceptance of our regional agenda."
“Genuine, durable, and transparent partnerships are very important to our region. Partnerships that respect the integrity and sovereignty of our members to decide freely on who their partners are and whose contribution is provided on a non-interventionist basis."
“Geopolitical issues of a complex nature are for the powerful to sort out. Small island countries have very genuine focus on the social and economic needs of their small populations who also aspire to share in the enjoyment of the necessities of the modern world.”