As the meeting got underway, Prime Minister of Cook Islands and Chair of the Smaller Island States (SIS), the Honourable Henry Puna said “In the true Pacific Way, we wholeheartedly agreed to support and welcome FSM into the SIS family.”
President of the Federated States of Micronesia, H.E Peter Christian was then led into the Chamber by the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor.
Taking a seat at the SIS Leaders table, President Christian said ““The Federated States of Micronesia takes this as a great honour to be included as a member of SIS. It is something that we have wanted for a long time.”
The Smaller Island States membership now comprises Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau & Tuvalu.
The Smaller Island States grouping was established in 2005 to facilitate special assistance to those Forum countries that experience limited development capacity and a fragile and vulnerable environment.
Earlier this year SIS Leaders endorsed a new Regional Strategy to ensure greater influence and presence by the SIS in shaping the regional policy agenda. The Strategy focuses SIS efforts in addressing issues relating to climate change, air and sea transport, marine, health, and labour mobility.
Uppermost on the agenda today were discussions around air transport. The SIS are looking for equitable and fair access to air services to their countries. They are also looking to exert greater control over their sovereign upper airspace.
The SIS reiterated their commitment to implementing the climate goals identified in the Paris Agreement and called upon all countries to take ambitious climate change action. Leaders also continued to explore the options for a joint proposal to the Green Climate Fund. At the recent GCF meeting in Suva, the Fund indicated it was be open to such a proposal. Discussions here focused on the need for the proposal to demonstrate tangible benefits for people at the national and community levels of the SIS.
Closing the meeting, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands and Chair of the SIS, Honorable Henry Puna said “Today’s meeting is the first of a suite of very important events for us and our region this week. I am confident that the SIS, through our SIS Regional Strategy, are taking the right steps to both addressing challenges and maximizing our opportunities. Our deliberations within the wider Forum family and development partners later in the week will set a solid foundation to lead and carry forward our regional priorities.”
Photo: PIFS - Leaders of Small Island States at their meeting in Pohnpei