The Pacific Islands Forum is one of the Pacific’s main political regional bodies, and its Annual Meeting a major gathering for Pacific Leaders. Hosted and chaired this year by the Cook Islands, Oscar Temaru’s speech immediately followed the opening intervention of the Cook Islands’ Prime Minister Hon. Henry Puna.
In his speech Mr. Temaru insisted on the need to look forward, and touched upon a wide range of issues that can guide Pacific leaders and communities to build their future with dignity and greater optimism. Among these the imperative of considering Pacific nations as large oceans states – this year’s overall theme for the PIF – as well as addressing urgently and effectively the challenge of climate change. He commended his colleagues to take advantage of new technologies, while also insisting on the need to preserve the Pacific’s rich cultural diversity. He made the case for a ‘democracy that delivers’ in the Pacific, as well as the establishment of shared societies across the region.
“Communities in the Pacific must feel confident about, engage for and own their future. This will require strengthening institutional capacities at all levels of government and recognizing democracy as a set of values rather than a set of rules” he said.
President Temaru also called for greater regional and sub-regional cooperation, further dialogue and sharing of best practices with others regions and actors as well as the evolution of international
development cooperation into schemes of investment and reciprocal partnerships, already in place in some countries.
Finally and most importantly, he highlighted that a sustainable future built with dignity in the Pacific would require vision and leadership. Whatever the region – be it the Pacific or anywhere else – while it is the people who decide how they view who they are and what their future ought to be, leaders have a responsibility to bring this vision into genuine and concrete action. While the Pacific does have a history of leaders with a vision, Pacific communities must own that vision and encourage their leaders to shape their future accordingly.
To read the Asia Pacific Forum conclusions, click here.