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'Blue Pacific' offers powerful narrative

Monika Singh
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

THE concept of the blue Pacific offers a powerful new narrative around which we may organise and develop key regional policy and action for the collective benefit of our people, says Dame Meg Taylor.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat secretary-general made the comment at the opening of the two-day 2017 Pacific Update Conference at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre at the University of the South Pacific yesterday.

Dame Taylor said their efforts over the past two years to generate momentum around regional issues, around regionalism in general had been rather difficult.

"But from my perspective, I see the possibilities in our cohering around this concept, and I am excited by the potential."

She said it was for the past five decades the independent countries of the Pacific had addressed common interests through a variety of regional and increasingly subregional approaches.

"The motivation for this is simple: We know that we can achieve more together, than alone. The geopolitical and development context of the Pacific has shifted and the region faces a range of external and internal factors that are acting to reshape it, including increasing plurality of regional actors, shifts in global power, and unmet development challenges," she said.

Dame Taylor said Pacific Island leaders recognised that Pacific regionalism now, and into the future, must be adaptable, innovative, inclusive, and most importantly, it must positively impact the lives of the people.

"Indeed, if our collective actions do not impact positively on the lives of the people of the Pacific then we have not succeeded."

She said Pacific Island Forum leaders had responded to the challenges through the endorsement of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism in 2014.

"It is through the framework that I believe we are in the early and formative stages of what is a new era for Pacific regionalism. One that will strengthen our ability to chart our own destiny."

She said the framework emphasised that the regional agenda must be determined by Pacific people themselves, not regional and international organisations, not donors, but leaders and their people.

On their engagement with the private sector, Dame Taylor said while closer links with civil society and the private sector had been established over the past few years, it was important to include the research community.

She said the PIFS welcomed a regularised, process for greater engagement and interaction with the research community.

"The Forum Secretariat is developing a report that provides members and other stakeholders with a contextual analysis of the region. This state of regionalism report will provide foundational information on the region, upon which leaders can make informed policy decisions.

"We have engaged with researchers and academics in the preparation of this document, and as we revise and update it into the future, we will continue to remain engaged with the research community."

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