World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Overview of PIF Leaders meetings by Forum Chair

Latest Speech
01 September 2012
Overview of PIF Leaders meetings by Forum Chair, Hon. Henry Puna to PFD Partners' Meeting
Overview of the
Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meetings

by the Forum Chair and Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Hon. Henry Puna, MP
Pacific Islands Forum Dialogue Partners Meeting
31st August 2012, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
We had excellent discussions yesterday at the Leaders Retreat, which was held at Tapuaetai Island in Aitutaki. The outcomes of these discussions are outlined in the Leaders’ Communiqué including the Leaders Declaration on Gender Equality, copies of which are now available for your perusal. Allow me to again express my deep appreciation to the Forum Leaders for their contribution and discussions with regard to issues of importance to the region.
2. I do not intend to repeat what is in the Communiqué, but I would instead like to give you an overview of some of the key issues that Leaders discussed at the Retreat, including those that came up during the week.
Forum theme
3. As you will know, the theme of this year’s Forum is “Large Ocean Island States – the Pacific Challenge”. This is aimed at striking a balance between sustaining the development of our marine resources with the interests of preservation and conservation. The marine environment is pivotal to the character and wellbeing of our island countries. The sea is our most precious resource, representing the most tangible asset for both the present and future generations.
4. The importance of oceanic and coastal systems to Small Island developing states cannot be overstated. The oceans and seas provide the basis for the wealth of living natural resources, whose benefits are vital to our people. The “smallness” of our islands, with the exception of a few, makes us wholly coastal in character. The continued health of the oceanic and coastal systems is therefore essential and a vital force to our existence.
5. Leaders have therefore agreed that as ‘Large Ocean Island States’, we Forum Island Countries have a leading role to play in management of the Pacific Ocean, building on our aspirations to maximise sustainable economic returns for Forum Members from ocean resources, including fisheries and seabed minerals, in accordance with the precautionary approach of Rio Principle 15. We witnessed this week the signing and exchange of eight (8) Maritime Boundary Agreements between the Leaders of Cook Islands, Niue, Kiribati, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Nauru and the Marshall Islands. These agreements will provide the foundation for improved governance, protection, conservation and management of resources within respective national jurisdictions.
Waiheke Declaration
6. Leaders acknowledged progress made by Members, with the support of the regional organisations in the Pacific agencies and development partners, towards sustainable economic development.
Regional Gender Initiative
7. Leaders yesterday endorsed the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration and committed ourselves to supporting women’s political representation, including, amongst other issues, advocating for increased representation of women in the private sector and local level governance boards and committees; and considering specific legislative changes to allow temporary special measures such as reserved seats.
8. Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced this past Wednesday that her government would be earmarking A$320 million to achieve gender equality in the Pacific under the “Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development” scheme over the next decade. The objectives of this proposal are threefold: it is to increase the proportion of women in leadership and political roles; improve economic opportunities for women through better access to finance and markets; and improve safety for women through prevention of violence and access to justice. I am sure that you will agree with me that much more needs to be done to instill ‘zero tolerance’ for violence against women and girls. Allow me to again express the deep appreciation of Forum Leaders and the region to Australia for this very important Initiative and we look forward to working with Australian government in this regard.
Pacific Plan
9. The Pacific Plan, which remains the master strategy for strengthening regional cooperation and integration, is due to be reviewed in 2013. It is a high-level framework to articulate the priorities for the Pacific region and is now well recognised by you, our development partners, and the wider international community. Your engagement in the region is highly valued, and we very much appreciate your contribution and continued interest in the work of the Forum.
10. We agreed to the importance of the Review, including that it would be led by Sir Mekere Morauta of Papua New Guinea. The draft final report of the review, including a refreshed draft of the Pacific Plan, will be presented to us in our next meeting in 2013.
11. The Rio+20 Conference outcome document (‘The Future We Want’) contains several outcomes that are particularly relevant for the Pacific region. These include, inter alia, a reaffirmation on the ‘special case’ for Small Island Developing States; endorsement of the convening of a Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (possibly in the Pacific region); recognition of the important roles of oceans and fisheries, and the need for regional and national actions to achieve sustainable development; and endorsement of the development of a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
12. We fully endorse the hosting of the Conference in the Pacific region, and Leaders will lend their full support to the Pacific Island country selected as the venue for it. Mindful the importance of the Conference, we have called on development partners and the wider international community to demonstrate their support for the success of the 2014 Conference and its preparatory process.
The Chair called on PFD partner support for ensuring all FICs can participate in the SIDS 2014 meeting.
Leaders have tasked the Forum Secretariat, in collaboration with CROP and UN agencies, to work closely with Forum Island Countries to develop a Pacific position on the post-2015 development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, and to contribute effectively to the relevant global processes, including the 68th UN General Assembly in September 2013. We have also called for Pacific representation on the Sustainable Development Goals Working Group and the Finance Working Group proposed in the Rio+20 outcome document, and we seek your support in this regard.
Climate Change
14. Many other issues of concerns were discussed by Leaders: climate change remains the single greatest threat, and we welcome and acknowledge the work of relevant regional organisations in the area of climate change. We welcome with appreciation Australia’s commitment of A$58m in new funding over four years to support FICs with improved data on weather, climate and sea levels to inform climate change adaptation planning, as well as new support for communities to build resilience to natural disasters.
15. I would like to finish by saying that we have had excellent series of meetings this week, starting with Smaller Island States and Pacific ACP Leaders’ meetings, and we look forward to a productive discussion with you, our development partners. Your views and commitment, and resources, are important to our region.
16. The Post-Forum Dialogue session is an important part of the series of meetings that we hold during the Forum week, and it is important that we continue to communicate with you on developments in the region. We thank you for your commitment, interest and role that you play in supporting and assisting the work of the Forum.
Thank you.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Afghanistan: Record Number Of Women And Children Killed Or Wounded

More women and children were killed and wounded in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 than in the first six months of any year since records began in 2009, a United Nations report revealed on Monday... More>>

Tale Of Two Pandemics: Follow The Science And Do Not Forget One At The Cost Of The Other

Covid-19 has posed innumerable health, economic, and social challenges for all, including people living with HIV. It has exposed the fragility of health systems around the globe and has diverted political attention and funding from other infectious diseases like TB and HIV... More>>

UN: Rights Chief Calls For Prompt Release Of Protestors Held In Cuba
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday called for the prompt release of protestors and journalists detained during anti-government demonstrations in Cuba, some of whom are being held incommunicado... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

Food Systems: More Than 100 Countries Discuss Visions For Futures To Accelerate Global Action Ahead Of September Summit

More than 100 countries came together over the course of three-days to discuss how they will transform their national food systems to drive progress against the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030... More>>

Food Systems: Italian & Rwandan Leaders Join Urgent Call To Transform World’s Food Systems As Pre-Summit Begins

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame stress need for more inclusive, sustainable and holistic approaches ahead of the Summit in New York in September... More>>

UN: Play:Fair For People And Planet – A Major United Nations Music Activation
organized by the UN SDG Action Campaign in partnership with Music Innovation Hub, Keychange, the city of Milan, the Milan Triennale, and partners from the SDG Music Network, will be held at an unexpected location in the center of Milan, Italy, taking into account safety measures with a limited on-site audience consisting of activists and fans... More>>