SPEECH: Secretary General’s address at the 42nd Pacific Leaders’ Forum, 7 September 2011, Auckland, NZ
Mr. Chairman, Rt Hon. John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand
Right Hon Prime Ministers, Distinguished Heads of Government of the Pacific, Secretary General Slade, Hon. Ministers,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I warmly thank you for the honour to address you at this historic 42nd Summit of the Pacific Islands Forum. I wish to congratulate this August Body in reaching your 40th milestone and I would like to wish you many more years to come with accolades of peace, security and prosperity for the people of the Pacific.
I would like to congratulate Right Hon. John Key for assuming the Chair of the Forum, and to commend the Government and People of New Zealand for their hospitality and the excellent arrangements made to ensure a successful summit.
Chair, your invitation for me to attend this summit is deeply appreciated and the decision of the summit to admit the ACP as an Observer to the Pacific Islands Forum is highly treasured. Its an opportunity for me to observe and to be able to understand better the priority concerns of the Pacific so that our contribution from an all ACP level can be better focused and add value to the wonderful work being undertaken in the Pacific region.
The ACP Group is made up 79 member States (soon to be 80 with the accession of South Sudan) from Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific, 15 are Pacific Island Countries including Timor Leste. The relationship between the Pacific Forum and the ACP Group is based on common history, shared values and collective responses to common global challenges. Becoming an Observer at this meeting, I believe will further strengthen the links between us.
The ACP Group is the largest grouping of Developing countries, comprising of Least Developed Countries, Small Islands and vulnerable states and landlocked countries. The ACP-EC Partnership Agreement signed in 2000, revised in 2005 and recently in 2010 provides the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the EU Member States, with the platform to work towards attaining our common objectives of reducing and eventually eradicating poverty, achieving sustainable development and ensuring the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy.
The measures to achieve these common objectives are constructed around three pillars: political dialogue; trade and development finance cooperation. The ACP Group is pre-occupied with same issues discussed here today.
The evolving international context and the increasingly diverse development landscape have impacted on Global Development Policy considerations at two interlinked levels;
- First the emergence of new global economic players-including BRICS as well as the increasing importance of the G20 as a global governance forum has inevitable geopolitical ramifications. This shift has brought about a multi-polar world order with new demands for global decision making.
- The increasingly global nature of development challenges, such as climate change and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, peace and stability, food security and energy, clearly indicate that solutions require new forms of international cooperation with involvement of emerging and developing countries.
- Shifting wealth has also led to increases in South-South Cooperation, trade and aid flows and the proliferation of new actors in international development.
Global Platforms are moving to accommodate the rise of these new regional and global powers. In the meantime, the United States and Europe continue to be restrained by fiscal constraints. The enduring stalemate in the talks on financing to counter the effects of global climate change is one case in point. Another is the inability of donors to meet their Gleneagles commitments to developing countries. In short, at a time when most traditional global powers are struggling to make ends meet, new powers including Australia and New Zealand in the Pacific region have asserted themselves as contenders for global impact.
In today’s global development landscape, the need for greater emphasis on the transformation of agriculture and other productive sectors, alongside international trade and economic growth, seems self evident. There is also a call for more attention to be accorded to global public goods, such as food security, health, climate, peace and security. This is just as well given the threat of global poverty that these entail.
- The first is making the most of the ascendance of emerging development players these up and coming powers add additional thrust, new qualities and a re-calibrated global balance to the dynamics of international development and finance.
- South-South cooperation is emerging as a platform to construct partnership, for developing new modes of cooperation and for forging innovative coalitions, a subject which the ACP Group is pursuing with vigour leading to the HLF4 in Busan towards the end of the year.
The significant shifts in global relations obliged the ACP Group and the EU to reconsider their relationship which has spanned more than 30 years. The second revision of the Cotonou Agreement in 2010 recognized the growing importance of regional integration, of peace and security and of promoting growth and tackling cross-border challenges.
Chair I would like to share with you few areas where I believe the ACP can complement and add value to the development efforts in the Pacific, and in particular to respond to the theme you have designated for this summit “to convert potential into prosperity.
Film and Culture
The ACP Film and Culture Programmes, implemented by the ACP Secretariat and financed from the Intra-ACP programme, have the overall aim of contributing to the development and structuring of the Film and Cultural industries in ACP States, to enable them to create and disseminate their own productions, and to enhance the promotion of ACP cultural diversity and identities as well as inter-cultural dialogue. Cultural diversity is our shared strength and wealth. Pacific professionals should be encouraged to participate in these programmes. This will help us to take a share in the US$100bn plus cultural industries global market.
Intra-ACP Migration Facility
Remittances play an important role in many Pacific economies; I thank the Forum Secretariat for agreeing to participate in the Intra-ACP migration facility, through support and research on temporary labour mobility. The observatory on Migration was launched last year designed to provide policy-makers and with information on South-South migration flows. Two focal points have been established in Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea.
Science and Technology
The ACP Science and Technology Programme primarily focus on the following themes
- Quality health care.
- Environmental research activities.
- Agriculture and agro-industry.
- Sustainable trade.
Several countries in Pacific are currently benefiting from some of these thematic programmers however I believe it should be extended and deepened.
Mining Framework of Action
The work on an all ACP Framework of Action for the Mineral Resources Sector and which would encompass actions to be undertaken in the short to medium term, to complement existing national and regional initiatives. A draft framework was prepared with the overall objectives to foster the development of the mineral resources industry in support of the sustainable development of ACP countries and to contribute to poverty alleviation and social development in the mining sector.
There are six main strategic areas that were identified for intervention;
- Enhancement of Institutional Capacity;
- Development of Exploration and Geoscientific Information Systems;
- Development of Small- and Medium-Scale Mining Sector;
- Reduction of Social and Environmental Impacts;
- Improvement of Energy and Transport Infrastructure; and
- Development of Industrialisation and Diversification
I look forward for the Pacific’s active participation in this initiative.
Due to the importance of Fisheries to the Pacific, the ACP Secretariat in partnership with development partners such as the Commonwealth Secretariat, FAO and South Pacific Community support ACP countries in fisheries management, coastal fisheries, phytosanitary and TBT issues. The ACP Ministerial Mechanism. has been established to address fisheries governance and trade issues.
With regard to Climate change, The ACP Secretariat work primarily on the basis of the design of support programmes in climate change which include desertification, land degradation, deforestation and scarcity of water which has been identified as immediate priority areas for action in ACP countries and regions;
These programmes are supposed to help ACP countries to adapt to climate change by reducing risks related to natural disasters and supporting the integration of disaster risk reduction into national development and poverty reduction strategies focusing on prevention, mitigation and preparedness components.
The Global economic and a financial crisis has demonstrated that we need not only to generate growth but also to protect it, which emphasises the necessity to build economic resilience in ACP Economies. [ The ACP and the European Commission held several consultations on a possible shock absorption scheme. The current construct evolved from STABEX, SYSMIN, FLEX and Vulnerability Flex. The key elements of the scheme has been examined including how it can work in tandem with existing schemes in the International Financial Institutions].
Mr. Chair, Forty years ago the Pacific Island Countries came together to form this organization to face together common challenges that confront you in solidarity with each other. The ACP Group stands by you and is keen to work with you and accompany you as you tackle the challenges of contemporary times and the future in the years ahead.
Distinguished Heads of Government of the Pacific, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you most sincerely for affording me the opportunity to participate in this Summit.
Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas
African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States