25 August 2012
Presentation by SG Tuiloma Neroni Slade at PINA-PIFS Forum Media Workshop
Pacific Islands News Association/PIFS Forum Regional Media Workshop
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
24th August 2012
PRESENTATION BY TUILOMA NERONI SLADE, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT
“POSSIBLE ISSUES FOR THE 43RD PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM”
I wish to thank the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) for coordinating the convening of this annual workshop which
has now become a part of the calendar of events leading up to the Pacific Islands Forum. The Secretariat is happy with
the workshop idea and through our Public Affairs Unit will provide every support as we have done over the past years.
On behalf of the Forum Secretariat, allow me also to convey my appreciation to the Government of Australia, for the
generous support provided for this event through AusAID. I have been informed that there are 15 journalists attending
this Workshop from the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga,
Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Allow me also to thank the management of Elijah Communications for allowing us the use of their
conference centre for this Workshop. The presence of media representatives from Pacific Island Countries at the meetings
of Forum Leaders is important. You have an important responsibility and public service to communicate decisions made by
Forum Leaders to communities in the region.
Theme for 43rd Pacific Islands Forum
As this year’s host the Government of the Cook Islands has proposed the theme “Large Ocean Island States – the Pacific
Challenge”. The theme is most appropriate as it speaks to the very character of the Ocean that is home to us all, and to
the challenges and opportunities for our region. It reflects and gives emphasis on oceans in the Rio+20 outcomes, as
well as the priority of sustainable development goals on the global agenda. Indeed, it is a theme that corresponds to
the Leaders’ vision for a Pacific of peace, a region of harmony, security and economic prosperity for all.
Possible issues for Forum Leaders’ consideration.
At their annual meetings, Forum Leaders go on a Retreat without their officials to consider issues of priority for the
region. This year, the Retreat will be held on Thursday, 30 August on the island of Aitutaki. Some of the key issues to
be discussed will include the following.
The Pacific Plan Annual Progress Report 2012 highlighting a number of achievements over the last 12 months will be
considered by Leaders at their Retreat. I understand that the Pacific Plan is the subject of the next presentation by
Deputy Secretary General Feleti Teo. But briefly, the Pacific Plan remains the master strategy for regional integration
and cooperation. Despite significant progress and achievements made under the Pacific Plan in 2011 and 2012, major
challenges remain and continue to confront the region – challenges like the fluctuations and instability in the global
economy, climate change, achieving the MDS, etc. The Pacific Plan is due for review in 2013, and the review terms of
reference will be brought to the attention of Leaders at their Retreat. The Pacific Plan needs to continue to be
relevant to member countries and for regional cooperation and integration, and also reflective of the current global
The Waiheke Declaration
As some of you might remember, Forum Leaders at their meeting in Auckland last year endorsed the Waiheke Declaration,
renewing their commitment to sustainable economic development. Leaders will discuss progress on arrangements for the
implementation of the Declaration including the decision by Forum Economic Ministers to provide regional oversight and
leadership in the implementation of the Declaration regionally and at the national level.
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
Leaders will also discuss the important outcomes of the 2012 Rio+20 Conference for the Pacific including the
reaffirmation of the special case for Small Island Developing States, the emphasis on Oceans and the decision to develop
Sustainable Development Goals. Leaders will need to decide on the process to develop a Pacific position on the post-2015
agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. As you will know, the RIO+20 Conference also endorsed the convening of a Third
International Conference on Small Island Developing States. It is possible that this will be held in the Pacific region,
and Leaders, and all of us included, would welcome the opportunity to showcase the unique characteristics and challenges
of our region.
With the theme chosen by the Government of the Cook Islands as the host of the 43rd Pacific Islands, Leaders will
discuss Oceans issues especially the efforts of Pacific countries – Cook Islands, Kiribati, Tokelau, also Australia - in
the creation of Marine Protected Areas in line with global goals for broader conservation and management efforts and for
responsible use of ocean resources. I must commend those countries that have chosen to do this, including the efforts of
those Forum Island Countries that have concluded their maritime boundary delimitation negotiations and are ready to sign
their maritime boundary agreements.
Because of its encompassing nature, climate change remains the greatest challenge for Forum countries. Efforts to tackle
climate change across the Pacific region, including advocacy at international negotiations, mitigation and adaptation
measures and efforts to deal with climate change financing will also be discussed by the Leaders. I understand climate
change financing is the topic of another of session later today, so I will leave it to the Director of Strategic
Partnerships Programme of the Forum Secretariat, Su’a Kevin Thomsen to elaborate further on that issue.
Implementation of the Forum Compact
The Leaders will also consider the two main reports under the Forum Compact namely, the 2012 Tracking the Effectiveness
of Development Efforts in the Pacific Report, and the draft 2012 Pacific Regional Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Tracking Report. The 2012 Tracking the Effectiveness of Development Efforts in the Pacific Report highlighted the
positive experience of the 2012 peer review held in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and follow-up visits to
Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, and Tuvalu. Amongst other developments, the Tracking Report also notes the benefits of sharing
experiences and identifying good practices to improve development outcomes.
The 2012 MDG Tracking Report reports that the achievement of the MDGs was slow and uneven across the region. It noted
that poverty in the Pacific, or more accurately hardship, was characterised as lack of access to basic services, lack of
opportunity to participate in the socio-economic life of the community, and lack of adequate resources, including cash,
to meet the basic needs of the household. With so much more to try and achieve before the MDG deadline of 2015, Forum
Leaders will consider means of accelerated efforts and otherwise how best to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
Trade is fundamental to the economic prospects for Forum countries and the region and is another important agenda item
for the Forum Leaders. The Director of the Forum Secretariat’s Economic Governance Programme, Mr Shiu Raj will at a
session tomorrow afternoon present on this matter. I should mention for now that the Forum Secretariat has and continues
to support Forum Members in the development of their National Trade Policy Frameworks, trade capacity building at the
national levels, and the promotion of Pacific exports and investments.
With respect to regional security issues, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) operations in the
Solomon Islands is now in transition and Leaders will also discuss the progress of the transition including the next
phase of RAMSI’s existence from July 2013 to 2017. On Fiji, Leaders will consider a Report by the Forum Ministerial
Contact Group (MCG) on the situation in Fiji on their visit to Fiji on 1 May this year, their first visit since 2008.
The MCG is mandated by the Forum Leaders to monitor the situation in Fiji.
So these are some of the issues that Forum Leaders will discuss. At the end of the Leaders’ Retreat, they will issue the
43rd Pacific Islands Forum Communiqué reflecting their decisions on these and other issues. The Communiqué also forms
the Work Plan for the Forum Secretariat as it implements the Leaders’ decisions together with CROP agencies, development
partners and other multilateral organisations.
Smaller Island States Leaders’ Meeting
The first of the series of Leaders’ meetings next week will be the Smaller Island States Leaders’ Meeting. This will
take place at the Edgewater Resort Conference Room on Monday. Leaders of the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau,
Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu will attend the meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands.
This meeting gives the SIS Leaders the opportunity to caucus on common issues of particular relevance to SIS, which
• the potential for a more strategic positioning of the SIS interests within the Pacific Plan in the proposed review of
the Pacific Plan;
• SIS special requirements in climate change financing;
• sub-regional transport services, including shipping and air services;
• the importance of trade policy frameworks in guiding trade negotiations and agreements;
• tourism potential in the SIS; and
• the centrality of gender empowerment and equality in the achievement of national and regional outcomes.
Pacific ACP Leaders’ Meeting
Leaders of Pacific ACP countries, that is all Forum members, except Australia and New Zealand, will also meet as the
Pacific ACP Leaders on Tuesday next week. This will conclude just before the official opening of the 43rd Pacific
Islands Forum on Tuesday afternoon. Discussions will focus on a range of key issues including:
• implementation of the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme under the European Development Fund;
• progress made on the Pacific Region’s negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union ;
• implementation of the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), and the conclusion of the PICTA Trade in
• Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER ) Plus negotiations;
• Pacific Trade and Development Facility;
• Refresh and Renew process of the Pacific Aid for Trade;
• World Trade Organisation (WTO) issues relevant to the Pacific ACP countries, and
• Study to determine the effectives of ACP membership for the Pacific Region, including the proposal for the
establishment of a regional Pacific office in Brussels.
Leaders’ Plenary Session
The Leaders’ Plenary Session that will be held on Wednesday next week will feature statements by the Forum‘s Associate
Members (New Caledonia and French Polynesia), and the Forum Observers. This meeting gives the Associate Members and
Forum Observers the opportunity to present to Forum Leaders their views on some of issues that the Leaders will discuss
at their Retreat the following day.
Leaders depart later on Wednesday for Aitutaki for their Retreat (on Thursday). The Leaders’ Retreat is attended only by
Forum Leaders, or their special envoys.
Post-Forum Dialogue Partners’ Meeting
The last meeting in the series of Leaders’ meetings is the Post-Forum Dialogue Partners Meeting to be held next Friday.
It will be attended by all Forum Members as well as 14 development partners: Canada, Peoples Republic of China, the
European Union, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, United
Kingdom and United States. There will be thematic discussions on the three issues of:
• Large Ocean Island States – The Pacific Challenge;
• Global Sustainable Development Agenda and the Post-2015 goals, and
• Enhancing Development Cooperation
Forum Leaders have a very busy schedule of meetings ahead of them next week. The important responsibilities that you
have as the media is to disseminate these decisions to the communities in the region in an informed manner, taking due
consideration of the accuracy of your reports. This is extremely important, as the understanding, and views and opinions
of our peoples are shaped by what you report. We welcome your presence here today as an opportunity to inform you of
some of the issues that our Leaders will consider. Please feel free to ask any questions to any of my senior officials
who are here. The Forum Secretariat’s Media Officer will be available should you have further queries.