12 Jul 2022

New Pacific regional strategy to launch at leaders summit

3:29 pm on 12 July 2022

The launch of a brand new Pacific regional strategy will be a crucial outcome of this week's Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting, happening this week in Suva, Fiji.

The new 2050 Strategy for the Pacific is due to be formally launched at the Pacific Island Forum leaders meeting later this week, after first being presented at an earlier leaders meeting.

The new 2050 Strategy for the Pacific is due to be formally launched at the Pacific Island Forum leaders meeting later this week, after first being presented at an earlier leaders meeting. Photo: Supplied/ Pacific Islands Forum

The 2050 Pacific Strategy is a 30 year plan that will form the basis of Pacific development and engagement, and will be launched at the gathering, on Thursday 14 July.

The strategy has been nailed down over the last six months, after it was introduced at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Samoa, in 2018 and is expected to be signed off this week.

Pacific civil society organisations (CSOs) were optimistic about the new 2050 Strategy. However, activists gathering in Suva said they were eager to see that implementation of the plan reaches communities.

Pacific Regional Non-Governmental Organisations Alliance (PRNGO) leader James Bhagwan said the strategy fostered greater diplomatic power.

"It has to work, because we need this as a region."

He said Aotearoa and Australia could learn more from the group and the strategy, in relation to diplomacy involving Pacific nations' relations with China: "The focus on that [geopolitical] aspect... this is our opportunity to say, actually, we're going to do things differently".

Bhagwan said the forum secretariat had been effective in engaging CSO and non-state actors during the last six months, while the strategy was being finalised.

"For the last two and a half years civil society has strongly participated or actively participated in the processes, and if you have a chance eventually to look at the strategic pathways, you will see that there's a lot of reference to working with non-state actors."

On Thursday, the forum events include a gathering of the Pacific leaders with CSOs, including PRNGO and the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO), and private sector representatives.

PIANGO deputy director Josaia Jirauni said CSOs need to be part of the implementation process.

"Our engagement with the strategy ... it's been on an informal ad hoc basis. So for us, as civil society, going into the implementation plan, how do we see CSOs as being part of them to form an engagement mechanism within this regional architecture? This is something that we also are also pushing for this week..."

Leaders called on to renew request for UN to investigate human rights in West Papua

West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda.

Benny Wenda Photo: RNZI/ Koroi Hawkins

West Papuan leader Benny Wenda is calling on Pacific leaders to remember the Pacific Islands Forum resolution for Indonesia to allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua.

Wenda issued the plea at the forum's leaders summit, which began today in Suva, Fiji.

"I want to remind the Pacific leaders that, during their discussions, they need to re-call for the UN High Commissioner's visit to West Papua," he said.

At previous summits the Pacific leaders had strongly encouraged Indonesia to set up a visit by the UN High Commissioner, to investigate reported human rights abuses.

Wenda said that Melanesia and the Pacific leaders need to issue a stronger message at this week's meeting.

FSM joins calls to stop deep-sea mining

The Federated States of Micronesia is joining a collective of countries calling for a moratorium against deep-sea mining and exploration, and will take the issue to the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting.

Palau launched the campaign late last month, with Fiji and Samoa joining soon after.

FSM president David Panuelo said their representatives would seek more regional support for the campaign at the leadership summit.

In a statement, he said this would mean pledges to support and a pause on all deep-seabed mining, new exploitation and new exploration contracts, as well as the adoption of seabed mining regulations against exploitation. The moratorium would pause these activities until rigorous and transparent impact assessments could be conducted.

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