Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum held their first meeting with new United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres on 22 September at the UN Headquarters, New York in the margins of the High-level week of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.
Honourable Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum [PIF] outlined the region’s key priorities from their recent meeting held in Apia, Samoa, from 4 – 8 September 2017. He highlighted the overarching theme of the Forum, ‘The Blue Pacific – Our Sea of Islands – Our Security through Sustainable Development, Management and Conservation’ to reinforce a sense of shared stewardship of the Pacific Ocean and reaffirm the connections of Pacific peoples with their natural resources, environment, culture and livelihoods. The Forum Chair called for close collaboration with the UN to drive the Blue Pacific.
Pacific Forum Leaders and Secretary-General Guterres discussed the 2030 Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development, which was endorsed in Apia by the Forum leaders to ensure coherent implementation and accountability for global commitments, including the 2030 Agenda and the SAMOA Pathway. Forum Leaders called on the UN to support the Pacific’s interest in strengthening implementation of their Roadmap, particularly through the development of Pacific-relevant statistics as well as more meaningful accountability measures for partnerships under the SAMOA Pathway.
Secretary-General Guterres acknowledged the contribution of Pacific countries for the early ratification of the Paris Agreement. He also emphasized the leadership role of Pacific countries in the UN’s deliberations and processes related to oceans. Commending the leadership of Fiji during the June Ocean Conference, the Secretary General confirmed the support of the UN system in ensuring that the outcomes of the Oceans Conference were brought to COP 23 in Bonn in November. The Secretary-General also announced that he would convene a Climate Summit in 2019 in New York and stepping up efforts to reduce vulnerability of Small Island States will be a top priority.
Forum Leaders reaffirmed that Fisheries remains a priority for the Pacific Island Countries and that increasing the economic returns and ensuring the sustainable management of fisheries in the region is of utmost important.
Forum Leaders also discussed with the Secretary-General the region’s peace and security priorities, including the success of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands, and the importance of including women and youth in peace-building efforts. Recalling the Pacific experience of nuclear testing, Leaders conveyed their concern about the provocative stance exhibited by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to test nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and particularly its threats toward Guam as a close Pacific neighbor.
Pacific Leaders conveyed their support to Secretary-General Guterres’s efforts to reform the UN to make it more responsive and reflective of Member States’ needs in an evolving world.