The incoming chair of the Pacific Islands Forum has identified increased regional integration as the key to addressing the great challenges confronting Pacific Island countries.
Addressing a large crowd at the official opening ceremony of the 41st Forum leaders summit in Port Vila, Vanuatu's Prime Minister, Edward Natapei, said the Pacific should work together more.
He said that no Pacific country has been spared the impacts of the global economic crisis and that only together can they properly confront it.
"We need to be talking much more about how we can bring hope to the Pacific citizens who are struggling to find employment, who are without political freedom, who want to ensure that their children receive a decent education."
Edward Natapei also singled out Australias former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
for some of the gains in regional development assistance before his recent removal from office.