8 September, 2017. The 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting was officially opened at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum in Samoa under the theme, The Blue Pacific: Our Sea of Islands – Our Security through Sustainable Development, Management and Conservation, yesterday evening.
Samoa’s Prime Minister and Chair of this year’s Pacific Forum Hon. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi told Pacific leaders and delegations that the theme speaks to the very heart of Pacific Regionalism.
“For the Pacific region and its island countries, the ocean is crucial. Exercising a sense of common identity and purpose linked to the ocean, has been critical for protecting and promoting the potential of our shared Pacific Ocean.”
He said that this commonality has the potential to empower the region through collective and combined agendas and actions.
“The Blue Pacific provides a new narrative for Pacific Regionalism and how the forum engages with the world.”
“This new narrative calls for inspired leadership by the forum and a long-term commitment to the benefits of acting together as one Blue Continent, has the potential to define a Blue Pacific economy, ensures a sustainable, secure, resilient and peaceful Blue Pacific as well as strengthens Blue Pacific Diplomacy to protect the value of our ocean and people.”
He also called on leaders to strive to maintain focus on regional priorities and not allow unnecessary issues to take dominance in the Blue Pacific.
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor reminded leaders of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and how the region have worked hard in the past three years to bring it to life.
“This was a step you took to raise the ambition for collective political action in the Pacific. A step taken because of a common concern that regionalism had lost its way, that bureaucratic process and technical issues were dominating the regional agenda and impeding leaders’ ability to set and drive the Pacific’s political and development priorities.”
She said that over the years the region’s policy agenda has been developed providing Pacific people with the opportunity to voice issues of importance to their leaders through the framework’s public consultation process.
Some of the issues that leaders will be discussing include matters related to the governance and financing of regionalism in support of forum leaders decisions, the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development and progress made against regional priorities in climate change, fisheries and PACER Plus.