The incoming chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, says the region can take action to lessen the impacts of the global economic crisis.
In his opening speech at the Forum summit in Cairns, he says the leaders can set the course by ensuring sustainable budgets and maintaining and improving the delivery of core services.
Mr Rudd says the leaders should seize the opportunity presented by the summit to build a consensus on how to respond to the crisis.
He also says both donors and recipients need to commit to actions which will strengthen development co-ordination and build the region's economic resilience.
"More effective co-ordination mechanisms between Pacific Island countries on the one hand and development partners on the other, will help the region achieve real outcomes, including progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. We need to do this to make a real difference to the lives of the two point seven million people living across the Pacific who still today live in poverty."