Posts tagged PIDF

SPEECH: PRIME MINISTER VOREQE BAINIMARAMA AT THE CLOSING OF THE SECOND SUMMIT OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS DEVELOPMENT FORUM (PIDF), DENARAU

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

Once again our deliberations here in Nadi are drawing to a close, and it’s my task to formally close the Second Pacific Islands Development Forum.

I have to admit that after the success of the inaugural Forum last year – and the wonderful spirit that marked our first gathering – I wondered whether we could keep that spirit alive.

But I realise now that I needn’t have worried, judging from the feedback I’ve received from so many of you. This includes our Chief Guest, His Excellency the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who left here this morning to return home full of praise for what he’d witnessed even in his brief time with us.
Part of the attraction of the PIDF is still its novelty value, the fact that for the first time, we all have a genuinely Pacific gathering that is also genuinely inclusive – Governments, civil society organisations and business working together to forge a sustainable development path for us all.

We know now that this is an idea whose time has come but I must say that speaking personally, the real wonder is why it took so long. Why has it taken us so many years to officially recognise the need for this grand coalition, to recognise that Governments don’t have all the answers, don’t have a monopoly on wisdom?

Think about it. Where else can we all gather together under the one roof to exchange opinions and ideas?

Where else do we see Pacific leaders actually chairing sessions addressed by civil society and business representatives, as happened yesterday with the Presidents of Kiribati and Nauru?

Where else can we hear senior representatives from some of the world’s greatest nations outlining their own development ideas, as happened with the special envoys from China and Russia?

Where else can representatives of the grassroots in our societies benefit from the wisdom of a leader of the stature of our Chief Guest – His Excellency, the President of Indonesia?

Where else can the voices of ordinary Pacific Islanders – through their representatives – cut through and be heard?

Where else can we all gather together socially as equals – to make contacts and share ideas – to enjoy genuine Pacific hospitality and even hear two Presidents sing, as we did at the dinner last night?

All this has happened here in the past couple of days as, once again, this extraordinary dialogue strengthens our grand coalition and makes it more relevant.

It has been informative, it has been enjoyable and it has been important. Because it has drawn us closer to framing a viable and uniquely Pacific blueprint for the sustainable development of our region on land and at sea – Green Growth in a Blue World.

From the feedback I’ve received, most of you believe the contributions have been valuable and thought-provoking and I want to thank the various speakers for the effort they put into their presentations. You came and you were heard. And we all leave with fresh insights drawn from the ideas and experiences you shared.

I want to pay particular tribute to the Indonesian President for his keynote address. While pressing engagements at home have obliged him to leave before the formal closing, he left behind a lot for us to think about.

There were many highlights of his speech – his tour of the global horizon and his warning of a new cold war if nations don’t put dialogue before confrontation and his explanation of Indonesia’s development philosophy, which is strikingly similar to our own.

But I was especially impressed by that portion of the President’s speech referring to climate change and the way in which Indonesia is responding to the challenge. Far from being reticent to embrace strong cuts in carbon emissions to reduce global warming – like its big neighbor to the South – Indonesia is committed to making significant cuts and also committed to paying the necessary price for doing so.

By 2020, the President said, Indonesia is prepared to cut carbon emissions by 26 per cent using its own resources and a whopping 41 per cent if it can get international assistance for such a program. This is bold and this is visionary. Because only with cuts of this magnitude can we in the Pacific hope to stave off the looming crisis we all face from rising sea levels caused by the global warming these carbon emissions are causing.

We deeply appreciate Indonesia’s strong commitment to broaden its cooperation with the PIDF countries to mitigate the impact of climate change. This includes the offer of various capacity building programs to Pacific nations, plus a financial contribution of US$20 million.

This is the act of a true friend who empathises with the crisis we all face and we are deeply grateful. We certainly hope that other countries follow Indonesia’s lead.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, as we bring the second summit of the PIDF to a close, I want to make an exciting announcement that Fiji hopes will have far reaching consequences for the way in which aid is delivered in our region in future.

Under the terms of a South-South Co-operation agreement, Japan is going to assist Fiji to establish regional training programs over a wide range of areas.

Through the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA), an initial amount of US$ 1.3 million will be provided to Fiji’s Public Service Commission over the next three years to establish capacity building programs for Kiribati and Tuvalu.

These training courses – lasting up to a month – will be conducted by Fijian personnel and be designed for the specific needs of the people of Kiribati and Tuvalu. And the great thing is that this is just the start.
Japan and Fiji share a long term vision to offer similar programs in all the PIDF countries. They include human resource training for senior and middle management, communications and writing courses, IT refresher courses and a broad range of technical courses.

The technical courses will teach practical skills and be tailored to specific needs. They include such things as marine electrical engineering, automotive maintenance, solar farm maintenance and medical attachments.

This program is a great honour for Fiji. It recognises our leadership in the region and the skills set of our people. And it recognises the empathy we have with our neighbours and our desire to work with them closely to raise their own living standards.

Fiji is deeply grateful to the Japanese Government for the confidence it has shown in us to finance such a scheme. It is a new paradigm in the delivery of aid. Instead of sending its own personnel to conduct these programs, Japan has placed its trust in Fiji to do the work, knowing that we are better able to understand local conditions in the Pacific and better equipped to deal with our fellow Pacific Islanders.

We already have a strong record of doing so. Under our Volunteer Program, Fiji already has eleven volunteers in Tuvalu and others in Nauru, the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu. They are all there to serve our fellow Pacific Islanders, just as we serve the global community through our UN peacekeeping and own people with the delivery of basic services.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. In closing, I want to thank you all for coming and especially our overseas visitors. And in doing so, I extended an invitation to you all to join us in Fiji again next year for the third PIDF summit. Please enjoy the rest of the day and our special closing program this evening.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you. Moce Mada and Farewell.

FIJI WARNS OF CATASTROPHE IN THE PACIFIC BECAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Region’s leading nation calls for renewed global effort to reduce carbon emissions

Fiji has appealed to developed nations not to behave selfishly over the catastrophic prospect facing Small Island Developing States because of climate change.

The Fijian Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama called for a renewed global commitment to reduce carbon emissions at the second summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Nadi, Fiji, which is being attended by the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and a number of Pacific leaders.

The Fijian leader expressed the Pacific region’s “collective disappointment and dismay” at the failure of the international community to seriously address the issue of climate change.

“The collective will to adequately address the crisis is receding at a time when the very existence of some Pacific Island nations is threatened by rising sea levels,” Prime Minister Bainimarama said.

He said rising sea levels caused by global warming threaten to submerge the nations of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands and are already swamping the coastal areas of many Pacific nations, including Fiji.

Prime Minister Bainimarama made specific reference to Australia, which he accused of backtracking on its previous commitments on carbon emissions.

“The election of the new government in Australia last September has seen a distinct change of rhetoric about cutting carbon emissions.”

The Prime Minister called on Australia and other nations not to put short-term interests ahead of their responsibility to the global community, particularly to those nations whose very existence is in question.

“History will judge you harshly if you abandon us to our apparent fate of sinking below the waves because you don’t want to make the necessary adjustment to your domestic policies,” he said.

The issue of climate change has taken centre stage at the Pacific Islands Development Forum.

The President of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – who delivered the keynote address – said that Indonesia has a strong commitment to broaden its network of cooperation with PIDF countries to mitigate the impact of climate change.

The President acknowledged the great challenge the world is facing from the impact of climate change.

“This is the reason why Indonesia has taken steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. By 2020, we aim to cut our emissions by 26 per cent using only our own resources, and up to 41 per cent with international support,” he said.

President Yudhoyono announced that over the next five years, Indonesia will also offer various capacity building programs to Pacific nations to deal with the crisis, plus a contribution of US$20 million.

The Fijian leader’s renewed call for action comes after the Fijian President and Head of State, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, announced in, February this year, that the people of Kiribati would be granted a home in Fiji if their country is submerged by the rising seas.

Kiribati has already purchased 6,000 acres of land on Fiji’s second biggest island, Vanua Levu, to ensure its food security as sea water encroaches on its arable land.

The Fijian president announced that some or all of the 100,000 citizens of Kiribati would be able to migrate to Fiji if the need arose.

“Fiji will not turn its back on our neighbours in their hour of need,” he said. “I want to assure you all that Fiji will stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you face this crisis, as well as in doing everything possible to try to avert it. In a worst case scenario and if all else fails, you will not be refugees.”

The PIDF Summit ends on Friday 20th June.

SPEECH: PRIME MINISTER VOREQE BAINIMARAMA AT THE OPENING OF THE SECOND SUMMIT OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS DEVELOPMENT FORUM (PIDF), DENARAU

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

Welcome to the Second Summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum – our grand coalition of regional governments, civil society organisations and the private sector.

I want to extend a special welcome to our chief guest, His Excellency the President of Indonesia. Sir, your presence in Fiji is a great honour and every Fijian joins me in welcoming you to our shores. My fellow leaders here also join me in welcoming you to the Pacific Islands. And I, in turn, also welcome them to Fiji.

Mr President, with your 250 million citizens spread out across 13-and-a-half thousand islands in the Indonesian Archipelago, you represent the most populous nation in our immediate region, as well as the most influential on the global stage.

Indeed, you are one of only three world leaders appointed by the United Nations to the high-level panel advising it on the global development agenda beyond 2015.

This makes you uniquely qualified to help steer our discussions at this Forum, where together we are setting sustainable development goals for our own region. We certainly look forward to the insights you will bring us in your opening address.

Mr President, for ten years, you have also presided over, and strengthened, the development of a genuine democracy in Indonesia. This is a singular achievement. And you have done so as a strong advocate of ethnic and religious tolerance and harmony in the world’s largest Islamic country in a secular state.

On 17 September, we will emulate your lead here in Fiji when we hold the first genuinely democratic election under our new Constitution, with a common and equal citizenry – for the first time, one person, one vote, one value – and a predominantly Christian country in a secular state

We are determined that this election will be free and fair and express the genuine will of the Fijian people. And to that end, we are assembling a multinational team of observers, which will include Indonesia being a co-leader. And I want to take this opportunity to warmly thank you on behalf of every Fijian for participating in this historic initiative as we embark on our first ever genuine democracy.

Fiji regards Indonesia as a close friend and valued development partner. And we see you as an important ally in our joint effort to improve the lives of the people of developing countries the world over, whether it is through the United Nations, the G77 Plus China or the Non-Aligned Movement, of which Indonesia was a founding member.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I also extend a warm welcome to our other visitors from outside the region, who include observers from some of the world’s most influential nations, all of whom have a keen interest in our deliberations.

And, of course Fiji welcomes its Pacific neighbours, the countries and territories who are either back in Nadi again after attending the first PIDF summit last year or are joining us for the first time as our grand coalition expands.

We especially welcome those representatives who have found a voice in the PIDF for the first time, having been excluded from the “governments only” Pacific Islands Forum. Whether you come from the private sector – the highly valued generator of jobs in our economies – or civil society organisations of all kinds, your voices are the genuine voices of the grassroots in our Pacific societies. For you represent the ordinary men and women whose welfare must always be uppermost in our minds and who we are all here to serve.

My Government has made service the cornerstone of its own program, whether it is providing ordinary Fijians with free education, electricity, water or telecommunications; serving our island neighbours through our program of sending them volunteer teachers and health workers; or serving ordinary people in troubled parts of the world by keeping them safe through our contribution to United Nations peace-keeping.

This concept of service underpins our commitment to work with you all in an inclusive and cooperative manner to improve the lives of all Pacific islanders through the PIDF.

My own philosophy about our organisation is simple: Without meeting the needs and aspirations of our people in a meaningful way, we are just another talkfest. Just another date on the annual calendar on which to make empty speeches and move on.

We have one Key Performance Indicator and one alone: to go beyond the rhetoric and take concrete measures to improve the lives of our people and provide them with a better future. If we fail in that objective, then little that happens here has any real meaning beyond this room.

Fiji’s vision for the PIDF – which I first enunciated last year – is equally simple: We don’t need expensive outside solutions in our quest for Green/Blue economies, in which our resources on land and our resources at sea are protected and sustained. We need an affordable, achievable and practical Pacific development model that not only serves our needs today but leaves our precious surroundings in a better state than we inherited for our children and future generations.

We don’t need big budgets and a bloated bureaucracy. We need big ideas to move our region forward and big arms and big hearts to deliver them. We need to be smarter and more imaginative, more open to new ideas, embrace solutions that are holistic and inclusive and that tap the common sense and problem-solving skills of our people.

We need Pacific solutions, by Pacific islanders for Pacific Islanders, forged in conjunction with our development partners but with genuine consultation. Working together hand-in-hand in The Pacific Way. Consensus. Inclusion.

Of course, we can only work within the realms of the possible. And I want to again stress our collective disappointment and dismay at the failure of the international community to address the challenges that confront us as Pacific islanders because of climate change.

The rising sea levels caused by global warming threaten the very existence of some of our neighbours – Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands – and are already swamping the coastal areas of many Pacific nations, including Fiji.

Yet if anything, the collective will of the global community to adequately address this crisis is receding. This is certainly the case in our own region, where the election of the new government in Australia last September has seen a distinct change of rhetoric about cutting carbon emissions.

I appeal to Australia and other countries not to behave selfishly over the catastrophic prospect facing Small Island Developing States. History will judge you harshly if you abandon us to our apparent fate of sinking below the waves because you don’t want to make the necessary adjustment to your domestic policies.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, on a more positive note, it is now my pleasure to give you a progress report on what has happened since we gathered here for the first Summit last August. And I say pleasure because I think we all have cause to be delighted by the strides we have made in building the PIDF virtually from scratch in just ten short months.

First, we have a new home – the Secretariat building provided by Fiji in Suva, which started out as a rather faded former colonial residence but which we renovated and transformed into an attractive and serviceable headquarters.

Second, we have an Interim Secretary General – Mr Feleti Penitala Teo of Tuvalu, a former Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum and one of the region’s most senior and experienced public servants.

We have also established a proper governance structure for the organisation. This includes a Senior Officials Committee under the chairmanship of the Ambassador of the Federated States of Micronesia, His Excellency Gerson Jackson, whose job is to oversee the work of the Secretariat. And we have a Governing Council under my chairmanship to provide strategic guidance when this Summit is not in Session.

This Council had its first meeting yesterday and we made a number of major decisions. We approved a work program and budget for the PIDF and approved its new strategic focus and transitional governance structure. And we agreed on the terms of reference to begin preparing an agreement for the long-term institutional arrangements for the PIDF.

This will be ready to be adopted next year by all Pacific nations and territories wishing to formally join the organisation. A Host Country Agreement has also been approved by the Governing Council, which will now be signed by Fiji as host government and the PIDF Secretariat.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the expanding membership and influence of the PIDF is extremely gratifying. Last year, we had 320 participants joining us here. This year we have more than 400. And the presence with us today of the Indonesian leader is ample evidence that we are a formidable and credible regional grouping and that our future potential is limited only by our imaginations.

Never before have we had a high level forum to sit down together – governments, civil society groups and the private sector – to chart a development path forward for all Pacific peoples. Until now, Governments have enjoyed a monopoly on decision making when they clearly don’t have a monopoly on wisdom.

For the first time, we have brought into the room those most affected by government decisions – the grassroots through their representatives in civil society and business. And it’s with you that we seek solutions to the challenges we face in keeping the Pacific Green and Blue.

I urge you all to set your sights on outcomes of the highest quality. Because we will contribute those ideas to the global debate in other Forums – the Pacific speaking with one voice based on the consensus we reach here.

The PIDF will be taking part in the Third International Conference of Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa, at the beginning of September and the Second United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York at the end of this month.
Delegates, this is about adding more building blocks to the foundations we laid last year, when we agreed on a broad range of measures needed for Green Growth in the Pacific. In essence, they include good governance, sustainability, how to pay for what we require, the need to forge genuine partnerships and capacity building.

This year, I urge you to bring those strands together to form a cogent narrative that is easily understood and easily explained. We need to take our people with us as we consolidate the work we are doing on their behalf. We need to give them a story they can understand.

With the diversity of national circumstances and different stages of development in the Pacific, there is obviously no “one size fits all” Green Growth formula and it is not our intention to develop one. But we can still come up with a framework that addresses the collective challenges we all face – sustainable economic growth and job creation, poverty reduction, the proper disposal of waste, the development of alternative energy sources to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

It is something that we have already embarked on in Fiji and are placing at the core of our development effort. Indeed, only last week we held a national summit to consider a Green Growth framework of our own. As I told the 350 participants: “We need to reshape our development strategies away from the conventional growth model of exploiting particular resources in the here and now. We need to refine our existing approaches and forge a new development model – one that is more holistic, integrated, inclusive and above all sustainable”.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. We need to be smarter and more innovative but we also need our development partners to assist us in the process. We need their help to help ourselves. So I’m pleased to say that we are signing a number of agreements during this conference between the PIDF Secretariat and our development partners. They all recognise that successfully shifting to a growth model that sustains natural resources over time requires the engagement of countries beyond our region.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, you are all in Fiji at a very exciting time. There are now less than 90 days to our General Election, in which five registered political parties are vying for the votes of more than 550-thousand Fijians who have so far registered to vote.

We are on the cusp of a new era – a genuine democracy which will herald a new era of stability and prosperity.

Our economic growth forecast for 2014 is 3.8 per cent, greater than our larger neighbours. So Fiji is on the move and the signs are all around us.

We also intend to cement our position as the hub of the Pacific with major improvements to our infrastructure – our ports and airports – and the expansion of our national airline, Fiji Airways. And we also intend to work hand-in-hand with our neighbours on issues of mutual concern and making sure our collective voice is heard in the world.

Our Chief Guest, Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

On behalf of every Fijian, I close by wishing you well in your deliberations and again issue a warm welcome to those of you who are visitors. As always, I urge you take time out to enjoy more of our beautiful country and the celebrated hospitality and warmth of the Fijian people.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

FIJI AND INDONESIA JOIN FORCES TO COMBAT DRUG TRAFFICKING

Fiji and Indonesia have agreed to join forces in the global war against drugs.

The governments of the two nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Denarau today that deepens their cooperation in combatting the trafficking of illegal drugs and substances in the Pacific Region.

The Minister for Defense and National Security, Joketani Cokanasiga, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Fijian Government, said that the MOU greatly enhances Fiji’s ability to secure its borders against the flow of illegal drugs.

“The agreement allows Fiji to make a larger contribution to international investigations by sharing information with the Indonesian security forces,” the Minister said.

The agreement was signed after a bilateral meeting between the Fijian Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, and the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is in Fiji on a State Visit and to participate in the Second Summit of the Pacific Islands Development forum, which opens in Denarau tomorrow.

It was one of six MOUs signed by the two governments today in various fields to strengthen the cooperation between Fiji and Indonesia.

Agreements were signed on the topics of fisheries, small and medium enterprises, public works infrastructure, diplomatic training, youth and sports and visa exemption for diplomats.

During the bilateral meeting, Prime Minister Bainimarama took the opportunity to thank President Yudhoyono for Indonesia’s support of Fiji, including its agreement to co-lead the multinational group of observers for the 2014 General Election.

The Prime Minister said that President Yudhoyono is an inspiration to the people of Fiji for the way he has stood up to the forces of extremism in his country and has upheld the notion of ethnic and religious tolerance and harmony.

The Prime Minister updated the Indonesian president on preparations for the General Election and added that the Fijian Government regards the expansion of trading opportunities with Indonesia a major priority.

INDONESIAN PRESIDENT ARRIVES IN FIJI FOR 2014 PIDF SUMMIT

The President of the Republic of Indonesia, His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, arrived in Fiji this evening to participate in the Second Summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who met President Yudhoyono at Nadi Airport, said that it was a great honour to welcome the Indonesian Head of State to Fiji.

“President Yudhoyono’s visit marks a historic moment for Fiji and for the region. His presence here shows the importance of the PIDF – the Pacific’s grand coalition of regional governments, civil society organisations and the private sector,” PM Bainimarama said.

The Prime Minister said that Indonesia – a nation of more than 250 million people spread across nearly 13,500 islands – is one of the Pacific’s most important development partners, adding that there are many areas for closer cooperation and partnership.

The Indonesian Head of State was accorded a 100 men guard of honor by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) and the Fiji Naval Forces upon his arrival at Nadi Airport.

President Yudhoyono is leading a delegation to the 2014 PIDF meeting where he will deliver the keynote address. While in Fiji, he is also expected to hold talks with senior government officials including the President of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

The Second Summit will also include high-level participants from 12 Pacific island governments, as well as observers from nations such as Morocco, Venezuela, Israel, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Kuwait and Georgia.

The Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia, Alik L Alik, and Kazakhstan Ambassador at Large, Barlybay Sadykov, have already arrived in the country.

The Prime Minister of Tonga, Lord Sialeʻataongo Tuʻivakano, arrived this evening and the President for Nauru, Baron Divavesi Waqa and senior officials from French Polynesia and Solomon Islands are expected to arrive into the country tomorrow.

Since its inception in 2013, the PIDF has been a unique platform that brings together leaders from the public and private sectors and civil society to address regional development challenges.

The PIDF Summit officially opens on Thursday 19th June.

INDONESIAN PRESIDENT TO OFFICIATE AT PACIFIC ISLANDS DEVELOPMENT FORUM SUMMIT

The Fijian Government is looking forward to welcoming the President of the Republic of Indonesia His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono early next month.

HE Yudhoyono will be in the country as chief guest of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) second summit to be held in Nadi from June 18- 20.

Prime Minister and PIDF chairman Rear Admiral (Retd) Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama had extended an invitation to President Yudhoyono to be the chief guest at the summit, which will focus on “Green Growth in the Pacific: Building Resilient Sustainable Futures and Genuine Partnerships.”

Prime Minister Bainimarama said “the President’s involvement in the event signals the growing importance of the PIDF in the region for issues such as sustainable growth and development.”

President Yudhoyono’s address to the PIDF will provide the Pacific with a rare opportunity to discuss a global report on global partnership in trying to eradicate poverty through sustainable development.

The global report chaired by President Yudhoyono and two other world leaders- Liberian President His Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron – includes the world’s development agenda beyond 2015.

The summit will be the second to be held in Fiji following the formation of the regional group last year.

OPENING AND HANDING OVER OF PIDF SECRETARIAT BUILDING

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

I’m delighted to be herefor a truly historic occasion in the life of our nation and our region – the inauguration of the new Headquarters of the Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Development Forum.

We are beginning a new era of regional cooperation – one that is much more inclusive than that of any existing structure.

The PIDF is a grand coalition of Pacific Governments, civil society organisations and business, all working together to enhance the cause of Pacific peoples everywhere. And it is a great honour for Fiji to be given the responsibility of providing this new organisation with a home. Every Fijian joins me in welcoming the PIDF Secretariat to Fiji, and especially the citizens of our capital, Suva.

All around us in recent years, we have witnessed the rejuvenation of Suva as we cement its position as the true hub of the Pacific. The PIDF is another great adornment to the harbour city we all love. And we regard it as an immense privilege to have been given the opportunity to give this new regional body a permanent base.

I said at the inaugural Pacific Islands Development Forum in Nadi last August that were determined to avoid any hint of extravagance as we set out to build the PIDF from the ground up. My fellow Pacific leaders and I all agree on the basic premise of doing more for less.

We want the PIDF to reflect the values of the grassroots – ordinary Pacific islanders – because that is who we are here to serve. So this is not a grand headquarters – a luxurious new building to house a bloated bureaucracy – but an old colonial residence that more recently housed the Fijian Government’s Audiovisual unit.

I’m sure you’ll all agree that the restoration and refurbishment of this building has provided us with a very serviceable headquarters for the Secretariat. It is relatively modest in keeping with our objectives but I’m sure it will also be a pleasant and productive environment for those who work here.

While we are starting small, let there be no doubt that the thirteen Pacific countries who have already joined Fiji in the PIDF have big ambitions for the organization.

We would like to see it as the pre-eminent regional grouping for one simple reason. That for the first time, we have an organization that gives voice to the aspirations of all Pacific Islanders and not just the elites. One that is closer to the grassroots because it reflects the views of all sections of Pacific society – Governments, civil society groups and business.

It is not a question of prestige or establishing yet another talkfest. It is about creating an organization that is more attuned to our development needs as Pacific countries. It is about creating an organization that is relatively free of interference from outsiders. But above all, it is about creating an organisation in which all Pacific decision-makers at every level feel they have a stake. That reflects the concerns of ordinary people and addresses their needs.

Fiji, for one, is convinced that the current regional architecture is inadequate. We don’t see the PIDF as a competitor for the existing Pacific Islands Forum. It is not a question of Governments having to choose between the two. But Fiji no longer believes that the Pacific Islands Forum – in its existing form – adequately serves the interests of all Pacific islanders. We also believe that the Forum has become overly bureaucratic.

Moreover, the fact that membership of the Pacific islands Forum is confined to governments means that the agendas and priorities of important segments of Pacific societies have been ignored.

Governments do not have a monopoly on wisdom when it comes to solving the complex social, economic and environmental questions we face as Islanders. Regional leaders cannot merely prescribe solutions to the challenges we all face. We badly needed to cast the net wider and with the PIDF, we have.

With this partnership between governments, civil society and business, we are in a much better position to listen more to our people and their common sense approach to problem solving. And we are in a much better position to tap into the knowledge of our business communities, who generate the jobs we all need to raise living standards and improve the lives of our people.

For its part, Fiji wants a fundamental realignment of the Pacific Islands Forum before it considers rejoining that organisation. But in the meantime, we see our future firmly planted in the PIDF. And we are encouraging all Pacific countries and territories – along with their civil society groups and business leaders – to join us.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, in closing I would like to pay tribute to all those involved in bringing this project to fruition. All of what you see here has happened since last August so our thanks go to everyone for a wonderful effort.

Given our interest in conservation and the Green and Blue Economy, I’m especially pleased to learn of the special effort that has been made to source the timber used in the renovation from sustainable sources and to use forest residue and offcuts in some of the furniture.

In two months’ time, we will all gather in Nadi again for the Second Pacific Islands Development Forum, where I look forward to welcoming my fellow leaders, along with the rest of our coalition partners.

We have a lot of preparation to do and especially those in the Secretariat. So it gives me great pleasure now to officially declare the PIDF Secretariat building open and hand over the keys.

Vinaka vakalevu, Thank you.

FIJIAN GOVERNMENT GRANTS DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION TO PIDF

PIDF Secretariat building10/26/2013

Work on the Secretariat for the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF) gathers pace as the Fijian Government today granted diplomatic recognition to the Pacific’s newest regional organization.

In two gazette notices (Gazette Notice 1289 and Legal Notice No 64) published today in the Government of Fiji Gazette, the Fijian Government formally granted diplomatic status to the Pacific Island Development Forum as an international organization under the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1971.

The publication formalizes the international status of the PIDF as an international organization under Fijian laws and ensures the organization receives the same diplomatic privileges as other similar organizations operating in Fiji such as the United Nations, the SPC, and the Pacific Island Forum etc.

During the historical inaugural meeting of the PIDF which was held at the Sheraton Fiji Resort in Denarau from 5 August this year the meeting approved the establishment of a Secretariat. The meeting also accepted an offer by Prime Minister Bainimarama for Fiji to host the Secretariat and to provide the initial funding for its establishment.

In his statement at the meeting in Nadi the Prime Minister said:

“I am equally delighted to say that Fiji offered to host the Secretariat and that offer has been accepted. On behalf of every Fijian, I want to thank our fellow Pacific Islanders for the confidence you have shown in us. We are deeply honored by the trust that you’ve placed on us, and pledge to make every effort to ensure that this important and new regional initiative is a success. Work will commence immediately in setting up the Secretariat, to maintain the momentum of this discussion. A working group comprising all the stakeholders, government, civil society groups and businesses will map out the way forward. Initially, we envisage that the new Secretariat will be housed in Suva in the former headquarters of the Fiji Film and Video Unit in Domain Road. It will be initially funded by Fiji and staffed by representatives of governments, civil society groups and business from the PIDF Region. Further details will be announced in due course but I can assure you that the PIDF Secretariat will be very different from the Forum Secretariat.”

“We have no interest in establishing a competing bureaucracy. Indeed, my fellow Leaders and I have agreed that our guiding philosophy will be the antithesis of many bureaucracies – less is more and more for less. The Pacific does not need expensive facilities, we need results. The Pacific does not need an army of overpaid officials; we need committed, publicly minded individuals, utilizing scarce resources to maximum effect.

“The Pacific does not need any more top-down solutions, we need to harness the common sense of our People at the grassroots, listen to them as we identify their needs and work up. So, my fellow Leaders have agreed that we will start modestly, expand only when required and live within our means.”

Meanwhile work on the PIDF Secretariat building is well underway at 56 Domain Road which was the former office of the Film and Television Unit at the Ministry of Information. The office is currently undergoing refurbishment to bring it to a state befitting the headquarters of an international organization. The refurbishment is expected to be completed at the end of the year.

This Project is coordinated by Fiji’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation.

Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama Delivers the Closing Address at the PIDF

PM Bainimarama’s Closing Statement at the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF)

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

This inaugural Pacific Islands Development Forum has been an outstanding success.

We came together for the first time as Governments, territories, civil society groups and businesses to confront some of the development and environmental challenges we face as Pacific Small Island Developing States.

For this first summit, we chose as our theme “Leadership, Innovation and Partnership for Green-Blue Pacific economies”.

And as it draws to a close, we can confidently say that we have achieved our objectives.

We have shown leadership by acknowledging and embracing the challenge posed to all of us, of unsustainable development and its consequent threat to the welfare of our islands and our people.

We have discussed ways in which we can confront those challenges with solutions that are innovative, practical and affordable.

And we have forged an unbeatable partnership in which governments, civil society groups and businesses can work together for the common good of our people.

Our people look to us to work cooperatively and effectively to try to resolve our gravest crisis – the increasing threat to our environment, the health of our ocean and the health of our land. And at this conference, I believe that we have risen to the challenge. We have not let them down.

We cannot pretend that easy solutions are possible but we can report to our people that we are finally working together to find them.

And we’re doing it in the Pacific Way – through consultation and consensus.

Our final outcomes will bring together the various strands of our discussions over the past three days into one rallying statement and blueprint for the future.

But simply put, we have already succeeded in the objective I laid out on Monday – building the foundations for a new regional framework of cooperation, solidarity and friendship.

Now I ask you all to play your parts in consolidating some of the ideas that have been aired here and turning them into practical action.

We have had some wonderful presentations and I would like to thank all of the speakers for their contributions and ideas.

Each of these is a block in the new structure we are building to take our region forward.

Many of you will be wondering where we go from here.

Well, I’m delighted to make an important announcement. My fellow leaders and I have agreed to formally establish a Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Development Forum.

I’m equally delighted to say that Fiji offered to host the Secretariat and that offer has been accepted.

On behalf of every Fijian, I want to thank our fellow Pacific Islanders for the confidence you have shown in us.

We are deeply honoured by the trust you have placed in us and pledge to make every effort to ensure that this important new regional initiative is a success.

Work will commence immediately on setting up the Secretariat to maintain the momentum of these discussions. A working group comprising all of the stakeholders – governments, civil society groups and business – will map out the way forward.

Initially, we envisage that the new Secretariat will be housed in Suva in the former headquarters of the Fiji Film and Video Unit in Domain Road.

It will be funded initially by Fiji and staffed by representatives of government, civil society groups and business from the PIDF region.

Further details will be announced in due course but I can assure you that the PIDF Secretariat will be very different from the Forum Secretariat.

We have no interest in establishing a competing bureaucracy. Indeed my fellow leaders and I agree that our guiding philosophy will be the antithesis of most bureaucracies -“less is more and more for less”.

The Pacific doesn’t need expensive facilities. We need results.

The Pacific doesn’t need an army of overpaid officials. We need committed, publically-minded individuals ultilising scarce resources to maximum effect.

The Pacific doesn’t need any more top-down solutions. We need to harness the common sense of our people at the grassroots, listen to them as we identify their needs, and work up.

And so my fellow leaders have agreed that we will start modestly, expand only when required and live within our means.

I’d like to pay special tribute to those countries outside the region that have already pledged significant amounts to finance our vision.

I have had meetings with some of them during this Forum and have been delighted with their enthusiasm for the PIDF.

I also want to thank our civil society groups and businesses for the enthusiasm they have displayed during these deliberations.

You have long sought a voice in existing regional forums but have been rebuffed.

Now, you have a voice and that voice is being listened to. You finally have a partnership with government and from our stand-point, that partnership is highly valued.

And so Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, we move forward with a new, inclusive organisation to give voice to our aspirations, designed for Pacific Islanders by Pacific Islanders.

We acknowledge that there are some governments still to be convinced about the worth of this initiative. But they are welcome to join us.

Certainly, I would ask all of you here who’ve regarded this Forum as worthwhile to convey your experience to a wider audience, whether by the customary Coconut Wireless or the media – social and mainstream.

And so the curtain comes down on the First Pacific Islands Development Forum.

There will definitely be a second – at a time and place to be announced – and we look forward to seeing you all there.

As we go our separate ways after today, I’m reminded of what Winston Churchill famously said after the allies won the Battle of El Alamein: Quote:

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”. Unquote.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are closing the first chapter here today as we return to our homes but will gather again to write the rest of the story. And we leave this place in the sure knowledge that we have started something worthwhile.

Thank you all for coming and making this a wonderful success.

Vinaka Vakalevu.

Thank you.