“I would like to thank everyone who made a submission this year, as your efforts show that there is a strong appreciation and appetite for Pacific Regionalism. They also show an understanding of the benefits that can come when Forum countries cooperate and collaborate to address the big issues and interests that we face and can share together.” said Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat and Chair of the Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism, Dame Meg Taylor.
The submissions cover a diverse range of policy areas including energy, education, labour mobility, ocean, tourism, and health, with the highest volume of submissions centred on issues relating to climate change and West Papua.
“It is pleasing to see new initiatives and issues emerge from across the region. It is also encouraging to see that some of the submissions this year build on regional policy priorities that emerged through this same public policy process last year. Not only is there ongoing interest and discussion around regional responses to climate change and West Papua, but there are proposals that acknowledge and seek to strengthen the work currently being done in the areas of ICT and fisheries.” said Dame Meg.
Submissions were received from individuals, civil society, the private sector, multi-country consortiums, multi-lateral agencies, and academia from countries across the region - including Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu..
In speaking about the next steps of the process, the Secretary General said that, “Pacific Leaders have committed to listening to the Pacific people, and this consultative public process has identified a strong selection of policy ideas for us to consider. The Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat will be assessing and analysing each of the submissions over the next six weeks. They will be looked at against the criteria for regionalism outlined in the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, and would also be consulting with technical expertise appropriate to each submission. This will ensure that any policy initiatives that are recommended to Pacific Leaders warrant their oversight and commitment.”
The Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism will meet to discuss the submissions in June before making their recommendations to Pacific Leaders who meet in Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia, between August 7 and 11, 2016.
The Specialist Sub-Committee will endeavour to ensure that the recommendations to Leaders consist of a handful of strategic, high level regional priorities. In doing this, the sub-committee will take stock of the current priorities and make recommendations on whether they should remain on the Leaders agenda in 2016.
Submissions can be viewed on the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s website www.forumsec.org