Regional meetings like the ones taking place in Apia this week matter because the issues discuss help the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat offer advice and guidance for the Forum leader’s agenda.
So says the Secretariat’s General Secretary, Dame Meg Taylor. She was speaking during the Forum Officials Committee meeting at the Taumeasina Island Resort yesterday.
These mechanisms, as highlighted by Dame Meg, include the Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism, the newly established Sub-Committee on Forum Engagement and Advocacy, the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting, and the Forum Fisheries Council Meeting.
“This meeting also provides an opportunity to ensure that we all are connecting well with each other in progressing the policy priorities of our region,” Dame Meg said.
“Achieving the objectives of the framework for Pacific regionalism requires the collective contribution of member countries and regional organisations. I am very grateful for the presence today (yesterday) of my Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (C.R.O.P.) colleagues.”
Dame Meg also said the Blue Pacific serves to empower Pacific Islanders, the value and potential of our region, and encouraging us to think and act from a position of strength.
“Since its endorsement last year, we have already seen the power of the Blue Pacific in providing coherence and focus in the way that we work together as a region."
“This was very apparent in our region’s contribution to the Pacific Leaders Meeting with Japan this year – (P.A.L.M. 8). This was a demanding negotiation, but the spirit of the Blue Pacific was very evident to me in the way that member countries, as well as C.R.O.P. organisations, worked together to ensure meaningful outcomes for our region.”
“Dame Meg said the Blue Pacific is a powerful narrative in the current geopolitical environment."
“These include shifts in global power and globalisation, rising inequality, changing multilateral relations, depletion of natural resources, regional and global conflict and ongoing advances in technology."
“By reason of geography and our assets, we are a region of interest to the wider world and indeed there seems to have been an acceleration of interest and attention in very recent times."
“This context must be recognised in our deliberations and advice to leaders. With that intent in mind, the first substantive item on our agenda today (yesterday) seeks to provide a strategic frame for our discussions, based on the excellent theme proposed by Nauru for this year’s Forum ‘Building a Strong Pacific – Our Islands, Our People, Our Will’,” said Dame Meg.
Dame Meg thanked Australia for chairing the Forum Officials Committee over the past 12 months and welcomed Cook Islands as the chair for next year.
She also acknowledged the Government of Samoa for the hospitality and the dedication to the Forum as the chair for the past year.