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SIS Leaders welcome Pacific Plan Progress

SIS Leaders welcome Pacific Plan Progress

23rd October, 2006

Leaders of the Pacific Islands Smaller Island States today welcome the considerable progress made in implementing the Pacific Plan, saying there were many significant initiatives gaining momentum under the Plan and that support from regional organisations and development partners had been a strong and positive feature to date.

SIS Leaders held their 15th Summit today at the Westin Hotel, Denarau, Nadi, Fiji. and was attended by Leaders from the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and the Republic of Palau.

The meeting was chaired by the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, HE President Kessai Note. The President of French Polynesia, the Ulu of Tokelau and Executive Heads of CROP organizations also attended the meeting as observers.

"We note the key challenges that need to be overcome in order for the Pacific Plan to be effectively implemented. Paramount is that of fully translating the regional initiatives being developed into plans and follow-up actions at the national level,� the SIS Leaders said.

We also agree on a number of key commitments to address several challenges in the areas of economic growth, sustainable development, good governance, security and implementation/partnerships and to move the Plan forward in the next twelve months.

On the issue of bulk petroleum purchase, SIS Leaders say: "We have common areas of immediate concern on this issue, and would equally benefit from a degree of aggregation and coordination of national responses in the areas of Energy Regulation, Risk Management, and Joint Procurement.

"We support the collaborative mechanism methodology and the use of framework agreements to guide the development of Energy Regulation, Risk Management, and Joint Procurement solutions for our countries and would like to direct our officials to enhance and strengthen collaboration amongst the SIS, with support from the Forum Secretariat, for the timely achievement of national benefits from these regional interventions."

Leaders noted the potential benefits of bulk procurement initiatives in petroleum and requested the Secretariat to carry out similar work for pharmaceutical and essential products. This work is to be completed by their next meeting in 2007.

In recognizing the need to address the increasing economic and social pressures created by unemployment through avenues such as unskilled labour access to developed countries, SIS Leaders note the work of the World Bank in examining economic arguments in favour of greater labour mobility including that of unskilled labour.

"We acknowledge the potential benefits of guest worker schemes may have on our island economies and we want the Secretariat to develop a proposal that would further investigate the establishment of guest worker schemes for the Smaller Island States in both Australia and New Zealand, drawing upon the World Bank Report."

The SIS Leaders also appreciated the establishment of a dedicated unit in the Secretariat tasked with ensuring that the SIS perspective is represented, and that they fully benefit from the Plan.

"We thank New Zealand for funding the Unit and urged it and other partners to support the Unit as it provides the much needed in-country capacity building to allow our countries to further realize benefits of current and future regional initiatives."

SIS Leaders are also gravely concerned about the risk of a worldwide epidemic or pandemic caused by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A/H5N1.

"There needs to be an ongoing commitment, at the highest political level, for the implementation of the Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Project and international health regulations was needed. We support this project."

The 16th SIS Leaders Summit will be held immediately prior to the 38th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting next year.

-End-

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