THE Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) that ended successfully in Honiara on Wednesday has brought in together Pacific Islands Leaders to deliberate on issues of concern and challenges face by small island states thus deliberates on future pathways that would enable island states to withstand increasing challenges.
The PIDF leaders’ summit eventuates with a grand opening on Tuesday at the Lawson Tama stadium with the theme “Stewardship for Healthy Oceans & Nations.”
This is a historic PIDF meeting for the Solomon Islands as well as for the Forum because it is the first to be held outside of Fiji, its country of birth.
Present at the summit were leaders from the member countries namely; Tokelau, Vanuatu, Nauru, Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu, Federated States of Micronesia, and Fiji.
In his speech on the occasion of the closing of the PIDF summit, the new Chair of the PIDF has made a special welcome to a member, TIMOR LESTE.
“Halo oloketa wantok and a Very Good Afternoon to you all and a special welcome to our member TIMOR LESTE. “We are indeed a growing organisation and your inclusion as a member is a testimony to the growing relevance of PIDF,” Sogavare stressed.
“We have had the opportunity to engage and deliberate together on issues of concern to us at our successful Leaders’ Summit 2016.
“At this juncture, allow me to extend my deep appreciation once again to all Leaders’ who have selflessly contributed to the success of the summit.
“Our theme for this summit “Stewardship for Healthy Oceans and Healthy Nations” captured the importance of our oceans and brought out innovative and integrated ways for us to address the health of our oceans.
“The outgoing chair of PIDF highlighted the inter-connectedness of oceans that affected the lives of our people irrespective of where they live in the region.
“He also noted that the ocean supports a vast range of economic activity, however if left unchecked, unsustainable exploitation may deplete the ocean’s ability to replenish its resources. I, as well as many others in this gathering noted with surprise and deep concern the loss of whales and other marine species as a result of using the ocean as a dumping site,” the new PIDF chair said.
Sogavare said that he also noted the urgent need for PIDF to follow up Pacific island countries in meeting their national commitments and ratifying the Paris Agreement. Let us show commitment on a global scale.
“As mentioned in the Archbishop’s invocation this morning, we are reminded of our role as stewards of God’s creation and of the call on Leaders to address the negative impacts of the over-exploitation and pollution of the ocean.
“Furthermore, the success of yesterday’s (Tuesday) toktok sessions and the hospitality of our people is a manifestation of the essence of PIDF as a space where governments, civil society and the private sector all bring in their strengths towards the pursuit of the common vision and mission.
“Our journey to date augurs well for the future. We have come through the challenges before us and they have built our resilience as a group of like-minded leaders and have stood up to the challenges with a common resolve.
“Fellow members of PIDF, today, we have engaged in strategic discussions on issues and challenges we face in our region and deliberated on proposed pathways that would enable our small island countries with limited resources to be able to withstand the increasing challenges of climate change and the unsustainable exploitation of our limited resources,” the new PIDF told members.
“Your Excellencies, our focus on climate induced migration is to be commended. May I add here that political will is the critical element when addressing this matter as it will ask a lot from us as Pacific Islanders.
“It will reshape our identity and will usher in a new regional understanding of who we are as Pacific people. With your endorsement, our secretariat will now look into the parameters of this concept and keep us informed of developments.
“Our strategic plan will now be the subject of nationwide consultations in the member countries to ensure that this strategic plan obtains the ownership of the people and the governments alike.
“We aim to chart a course that will affirm PIDF’s relevance to this region, consolidate its complementarity to other regional organisations and strengthen its uniqueness as an organisation whose core pillars reflect inclusivity, partnership and innovation.
“In our drive to rollout the Paris Agreement, we have also agreed to further consultations around a PIDF roadmap on Climate Change and the proposed Pacific Climate Treaty.
“Whilst we acknowledge the urgency of the task at hand, we must ensure that our chartered course and its actions are targeted, effective in its use of the limited resources and inclusive in its focus,” he said.
Meanwhile, the new PIDF chair use the occasion to affirm that next year will be the PACIFIC YEAR OF THE OCEAN.
“Excellencies, as a follow up to this summit’s theme, you have agreed to next year to be the PACFIC YEAR OF THE OCEAN.
“Let us all join forces with our secretariat to see how we can push the importance of the ocean to our children.
“For this purpose I would like to bring this concept the upcoming Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders Summit for their consideration to see how some collaborative effort can be harnessed.
“Excellencies, this is a unique space to have such discussions and as members of PIDF I commend the common mind we have had today and the creative ways we have agreed with to deal with these pressing challenges.
“I am humbled by your support and I look forward to engaging with each of you as we continue to build this common endeavour that is our Pacific Islands Development Forum.
“It has been an honour for my government and the people of the Solomon Islands to host you for the last few days. May travelling mercies guide you back to your national capitals,” the new PIDF chair, Sogavare concluded.
By STEPHEN DIISANGO