Real results called for amidst COVID-19 economic crisis: Puna


    By Maraia Vula

    Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Henry Puna, has called for an economic vision to deliver real results, in response to the huge challenges the region faces as a result of COVID-19.

    Puna made his remarks as he extended his warm welcome to the 2021 cohort of regional journalists reporting on a crucial series of Pacific economic and trade ministers’ meetings due to be held during July.

    The meetings will discuss regional initiatives to ease the economic and social burden of COVID-19 on the people of the Pacific as well as other pressing trade and climate finance issues.

    Puna noted that in the current crisis decision-makers are having to locate and manage resources in a way they have never done before.

    Official meeting agenda

    Activity begins with the Forum Economic Officials Meeting on 06 and 07 July, to prepare the agenda for the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) on 13-14 July.

    Puna said it was good to note that the journalists’ focus on economic reporting during COVID matches the direction taken by the Forum Economic and Trade ministers as they prepare to take action to secure a recovery from COVID-19 for the Blue Pacific continent.

    This is the second consecutive year that these meeting have had to take place online.

    Puna said: “Everywhere we look, there are new learnings and approaches and economic challenges for our members already dealing with a climate crisis and vulnerabilities as developing nations.

    “These are times when an economic vision for a new normal has to deliver real results, respond to huge challenges, while locating and managing resources in a way we have never done before.”

    “Across our region, it is clear to see at national and regional level, the determination with which our Pacific Forum members are working to ensure an economic agenda that meets the interests of everyone, and leaves no one behind.”

    “The media are a big part of keeping our Pacific communities informed and engaged on the issues affecting their livelihoods, their jobs, their businesses, their hopes and futures.

    Covering the COVID-19 economy

    “I know it has not been easy reporting this still unfolding pandemic and its impacts on lives and livelihoods in our communities.”

    “I commend your efforts to fight the misinformation and disinformation which has proven such a challenge for health and government officials across our region, and the world.”

    In his remarks to ‘Covering the COVID Economy’ workshop for regional media, Secretary General Puna said he was glad to see the involvement and partnership of the Forum Secretariat professionals, who are technical experts with decades of experience, like the Senior Adviser for Economics, Denton Rarawa.

    The workshop is supported by the Australian-based Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).

    “I welcome the partnership of our veterans Jemima Garrett and Dan McGarry, as the co-trainers for this important activity and thank you and our guest panellists providing their expertise and insights to keep journalists and all their audiences engaged in these important conversations on the economic life, challenges and opportunities of our region,” Puna said.

    “The access you will have to our key officials, and our partners across civil society, private sector, and other development areas linked to economic growth, is part of the reason for our partnership with PINA and PACMAS, on this initiative.”

    “Thank you for your efforts, and for your interest in following the 2021 FEMM and related sessions, beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    “We look forward to your reporting of our economic and trade meetings in the coming weeks, and to your sessions with our officials as you add more depth and understanding of the regional policies, decisions, and agreements into the public conversations shaping our Pacific future,” he said.