STATEMENT BY PM SALWAI
It gives me enormous pleasure to be here today and I am deeply honoured to share few remarks in this momentous occasion for our organization. But firstly I would like to express our sincere gratitude to you Mr. Chairman for the warm hospitality accorded to us by the people and the Government of New Caledonia. I wish to also commend the Director General and the staff of the Secretariat for the successful organizing of this 10th Conference.This gathering of the Member States and Territories at this significant juncture is important as we continue to deliberate on the future work of the organization and how best it can respond to sustaining and improving the livelihood of the pacific people.
As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of its establishment, let us also reflect on the achievement and challenges of the organization. Most importantly it provides an opportunity to craft the profile of the organization to adapt and deliver services against global reforms and natural disasters. The Pacific Community has come a long way since its establishment in 1947 and as the premiere bilingual organization in the pacific we will stand proud of our humble contribution to the development of our region.
Allow me to pay tribute to the leaders who came before us, for their vision, commitment and guidance in ensuring that this organization continues to serve to its members expectations and who have assured SPC’s phenomenal progress thus far. Collectively we must continue to take forward the task to support SPC in the next decades for the health and prosperity of our Pacific.
For the past 70 years, we have continued to strengthen our regional development program, through the established regional framework, bringing together our people, rich cultures, views and diversity in sustaining a common path. This very institution has been and continues to be one of the oldest and very important scientific and technological pillar of the Pacific Regionalism. We should continue to take pride of our regional achievements and potentials as we gather here at the SPC Headquarters today and commit ourselves to continue to nurture and strengthen our cooperation. The advancement of our work into the future depends on how strong we move together as a region, as the Pacific Community.
Vanuatu has recently welcomed the timely establishment of a Melanesian Regional Office in Port Vila. This is indeed testament to the important steps taken by the organization in enhancing communicationand service delivery and collaboration with the Melanesia. SPC knows the Melanesian Context well and let me congratulate the Director General for believing strongly in sub-region and embarking on this approach.
We are home to the largest ocean in the world and we have a huge shared responsibility to sustain and manage a complex diversity of resources, life and natural phenomenon within our oceans. All of us in the Pacific continue to face severe weather patterns affecting our countries predominantly caused by climate change and global warming. For that reason Vanuatu welcomes the establishment of a Pacific Center for Ocean Science and we commend the Secretariat for this initiative. The Ocean center should become a true flagship for scientific excellence for our future generation by building and integrating on existing platforms.The theme for this year’s conference “Innovative Partnership for Sustainable Development” is timely as it sets the direction to “rethink” and “reengineer” what we do in the region to reach our aspirations. In partnership with SPC we have already accomplished much over the decades, however the challenges ahead are many. Building strong partnerships are absolutely essential as we think of new innovative ideas in building stronger resilience against emerging threats and challenges. I would like to call for increased harmonization of development programs for our partners and SPC, and ensuring that regional programs while cognizant of Pacific diversity and complexity are better aligned to country circumstances. Faster accessibility to global funds continue to pose enormous challenges for many of our economies because of very rigid and bureaucratic processed involved. It is encouraging hearing of this global commitments, but it becomes depressing when those finds cannot be reached on time. That is the paradox we find with global commitments and we need to find solutions to this. As part of these efforts, I am pleased to announce that my Government has made the decision to work closely with partners including SPC to embark on the tedious task of reducing marine litter hence ban the general use of plastic bags by 2018. And in addition, enforce the use of traditional bags in the replacement of plastics. Our cultural and tradition lifestyle cannot be overlooked. The promotion of the blue economy and the preservation of our ocean through the banning the use of plastic bags has been recently echoed during the official opening of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Port Vila last week. If we Pacific Island Countries jointly together in spearheading this initiative, our commitment will no doubt encourage other countries to follow suit.
I am also pleased to say that we are proceeding with the organization of the Twelfth Southwest Pacific Agriculture Ministers Meeting in October coinciding with the first ever Pacific Week of Agriculture. Agriculture is an important pillar in all our economies and through these events we aim to bring government experts and all stakeholders sharing ideas and using that innovation finding solutions to halting the decline in agricultural production across our region. Aside increasing production the growing dependency on cheap and unhealthy imported foods it startling and it would be fair to say that our region is faced with a health crises. I look forward to welcome your Agriculture Ministers and representatives in Port Vila in October.
In closing, I am convinced that our organization has demonstrated growing maturity and we will together write this new chapter as we use our collective cooperation, our strengths to building partnerships that will best shape the SPC in being that regional leader promoting prosperity and improving the wellbeing of the people of our region.
I would like to once again offer my congratulations on the 70th anniversary. May we be remembered by generations to come for the decisions we make today and our compassion, for their future.
Thank you for your attention.