PRESS STATEMENT 68/11
[Suva, Fiji - Tuesday 16th August 2011] The Pacific Plan endorsed by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in 2005 is the master strategy for confronting the challenges facing the region.
In his opening statement at the meeting of the Pacific Plan Action Committee (PPAC) in Suva, Fiji today, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuiloma Neroni Slade said: “Many of the challenges confronting the region can more feasibly be best dealt with at a regional level, with countries learning from each other to identify effective pathways and best practice.”
“The Pacific Plan, the master strategy for greater regional cooperation and integration, is a key part of that approach. The Plan must guide regional agencies and other key players to ensure that national governments receive advice and services that are appropriate, targeted and accountable,” said Mr Slade.
He continued: “Efforts towards achieving the goals of the Pacific Plan, must necessarily keep the international agenda in sight, for this is a region that is heavily influenced by world events, from the global climate change challenge to fluctuations in the international financial markets. Where possible it is important that we aim to influence the international agenda and ensure that the views of our region are fairly and fully represented.”
Forum Secretary General, Mr Slade told members of PPAC, which is the Committee mandated to oversee the implementation of the Pacific Plan, that while the region is facing an unprecedented number of challenges, “ we can also be rightly proud of what we have achieved so far.”
He said excellent examples of cooperation as envisaged under the Pacific Plan over the past year includes the fisheries sector major monitoring and surveillance operations covering a number of countries and jurisdictions, and work on improving development coordination, including through peer reviews in Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Niue under the Forum Compact for Strengthening Development Coordination.
Other achievements in the past year include the region’s response to the Forum Leaders directions on considering how Forum countries can better access and manage climate change funding, further collaboration in the education sector, with commencement of a number of regional initiatives under the Pacific Education development and the implementation of the Pacific Regional Strategy on Disability.
Forum Secretary General Mr Slade said: “We are seeing some progress in a number of areas in our region but unfortunately the challenges don’t get any easier.”
This includes the effects of the global financial crisis with Forum countries vulnerable to fluctuations in the international markets and highly dependent on imports for food and fuel, with limited capacity to absorb any increased costs.
Climate change also continues to present a grave threat to the development and security of member countries and for some climate impacts threaten their very existence, and there are the health and development impacts of non communicable diseases in all Pacific countries.
The region also has some of the highest percentage of tobacco and alcohol consumption, and the highest rates of obesity in the world.
Mr Slade said: “Forty years ago, Pacific Leaders came together in common purpose to realize the natural sense and strength in working together. And so it is, with even greater potency, today.”
The two-day PPAC meeting, attended by senior officials from Forum member countries, Associate Forum Members and representatives of CROP agencies, will discuss a wide of range of issues including the 2011 Annual Pacific Plan Progress Report, a proposed Performance Framework for the Pacific Plan, the Plan’s Strategic Plans beyond 2012 and regional initiatives in the areas of sustainable economic development, trade, transport and energy, fisheries, tourism, climate change, security and governance, health, youth and gender.
The outcomes of the PPAC meeting will be conveyed to the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, 6 – 9 September 2011.
For media enquiries contact Mr Johnson Honimae, the Forum Secretariat’s Media Officer on phone 679 322 0303, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Ms Mue Bentley Fisher on phone 679 331 2600 or email: email@example.com
Caption: Forum Secretary General, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, addresses the meeting. Behind him is Pacific Plan Executive Officer, Alex Knox.
Caption: Delegates at the Pacific Plan Action Committee (PPAC) meeting being held at the Forum Secretariat in Suva.