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New Forum Chair Calls For Engagement Of Ministers

New Forum Chair Calls For Engagement Of Ministers In Decision Making.

The 39th Pacific Islands Leaders Forum has opened in Alofi, Niue with a call for new initiatives to refine the current arrangements to further focus the agenda of Leaders.

In accepting his role as the new Chair of the 16- member grouping, the Premier of Niue, Hon. Toke Talagi said Forum Leaders must have oversight over the key developments of the region and therefore they must be kept current with all these developments.

“However, at the same time they are also responsible for the affairs of their own nations and I think they must not be unnecessarily preoccupied with Forum matters. Because of this, the essence of delegation and priority-setting requires another look by Leaders, to engage our Ministers in decision-making and only reserve those matters requiring high-level political consideration for the attention of the Leaders,” Mr Talagi said.

“There may be scope for new initiatives to refine the current arrangements in order to further focus the agenda of Leaders, such as greater use of existing or new Ministerial mechanisms to oversee progress in relevant areas of the Forum work.”

Premier Talagi said he appreciated the attention dedicated to climate change at the Forum meeting.

“The challenges for the region is no longer a matter for research or scientific theory and modeling. The evidence is quite clear that climate change is already wreaking havoc here. Who could have believed that my own country which is so much higher above sea level than many countries in the Pacific, could be battered by a severe cyclone the way it was in 2004.”

Mr Talagi said: “We shouldn’t wait until a worse human catastrophe occurs before acting and the international attention now focused on climate change presents an opportunity for the region to negotiate and secure tangible assistance for people already affected by climate change.”

“While mitigation measures are also important, the frequency of severe cyclones and rising sea levels confirm that any meaningful responses must entail practical provisions for adaption.”

Premier Talagi paid tribute to the late Greg Urwin, former Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat who passed away recently.

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders and a large crowd of several hundred people who gathered for the occasion observed a minute’s silence in honor of the late Mr Urwin

“I understand Mr Urwin was exemplary in his leadership of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. During his more than four years with the Secretariat, he managed to raise the Secretariat to a new level of credibility and performance. It is sad that he has passed away but his legacy will leave on.”

Pacific Forum Leaders were presented with gifts by the government and people of Niue and entertained with cultural performances by school children from the local high school. After the opening ceremony they went straight into the plenary session. The Leaders’ retreat will be held at the Matavai Resort, outside of the capital Alofi tomorrow.


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