Angola reaffirms commitment to host OACPS Summit in 2022

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The head of Angolan diplomacy, Téte António has reaffirmed his country’s commitment to host the 10th summit of Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) in 2022.

In a statement, Minister Téte António said that holding the summit in Luanda is one of the priorities of the presidency of the Council of Ministers of Southern Africa, represented by Angola.

António, who was speaking as president of the Council of Ministers of the OACPS, also pointed out among the priorities the contribution to the implementation of the Action Plan approved by the 9th Summit of Heads of State and Government in Kenya in 2019.

Another priority, according to the Government official, is the finalisation of the new OACPS – European Union (EU) Partnership Agreement, as well as ensuring preparations for the 10th OACPS Heads of State and Government Summit.

The Angolan Foreign minister made these statements during the 113th OACPS Council of Ministers, which is was held from 30 November to 02 December 2021, in virtual session.

The meeting is considering, among others, the draft minutes of the meeting of the Council of Ministers held on 06 July 2021, the report of the Committee of Ambassadors, as well as the report of the Secretary General of the Organisation.

While delivering Fiji’s intervention in response to the Committee of Ambassadors’ Report, Minister for Defence, National Security and Policing, Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management, Inia Seruiratu called for solidarity amongst the OACPS Member States to advance partnerships for sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Council of Ministers were informed of the progressive steps Fiji has taken to vaccinate over 90 percent of the target adult population, and reopening of Fiji’s borders on 1st December after closure to international visitors for almost 2 years.

Minister Seruiratu reminded the Forum of the importance of continuing the momentum on climate action, and that climate change-related sea-level- rise remains one of the greatest threats facing our region, the Blue Pacific.

OACP member states shared similar climate change-related concerns, given that 64 out of the 79 member states of the OACPS are coastal states and 37 are Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Fiji.

He further emphasised the importance of implementing the commitments secured in Glasgow.

He called for the convening of a regional seminar to facilitate the implementation of the new development cooperation instrument of the EU, namely the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation (NDIC), and its implications on the OACPS Member States.

The Minister called for alignment of priorities identified in the new Partnership Agreement between the EU and the OACPS, in the NDIC and for a mechanism to ensure greater collaboration among OACPS countries and regions.

He conveyed Fiji’s call for the EU to suspend its blacklisting of countries as non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing during the prevailing COVID-crisis.

He acknowledged the need to continue to engage in meaningful dialogue with the aim of providing necessary technical and financial support to enhance tax good governance in the affected countries.

Meanwhile, Ghana has signed a host-country agreement with OACPS to host its 7th meeting of Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, signed for Ghana while Cristelle Pratt signed on behalf of OACPS.

The meeting, scheduled for 05 – 08 April 2022, will be attended by policy makers, practitioners, and other stakeholders within the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

The overall goal of the meeting, officially launched in Ghana on 24 August 2021, is to provide a forum for the engagement of the highest-level policy and decision makers on fisheries and aquaculture resources development to provide strategic policy direction and guidance.

It is also to improve and strengthen fisheries governance and contribute to the overall sustainable development of members of the OACPS.

Madam Botchwey said following right on the heels of COP26, the upcoming meeting on fisheries and aquaculture would continue the discussions on the UN SDG 14 – life below water at the UN Ocean Conference to be co-hosted by Kenya and Portugal, as well as the seventh ‘Our Ocean Conference’ to be hosted by Palau next year.

The visit of the OACPS Assistant Secretary and her team, she said was the first in a number of visits expected from their secretariat to assess Ghana’s preparedness towards hosting the meeting.

As part of the activities of the visit, Madam Botchwey said the team would inspect conference and hotel facilities and hold meetings with various stakeholders.

“We expect the report of this visit to highlight the strengths as well as the weaknesses in our preparations to help us put adequate measures in place towards a successful event next year,” she added.

On her part, Pratt said although fisheries have high nutritional value and contributed to economic growth, harmful fishery practices that were unregulated as well as pollution and climate biodiversity and COVID-19 placed fish lives under pressure and undermined production in marine life.

She said it was a cross-cutting challenge that could not be dealt with by one country, even if the country intensified its local initiatives.

The meeting would, therefore, deepen the relationship with member states, enable them to share experiences, and promote good ocean governance, she said.

She commended Ghana for signing the agreement, saying, it was a significant milestone that would ensure that the objectives of the meeting were met.

Pratt gave an assurance to work closely with the Ghanaian Ambassador to Belgium, Sena Siaw-Boateng, and other stakeholders to successfully implement the meeting.

Mavis Hawa Koomson, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, said the signing of the agreement was a confirmation of Ghana’s acceptance to host the meeting, reiterating that it was a crucial milestone that Ghana would take advantage of.

She gave an assurance that the Ministry would continue to collaborate with the OACPS Secretariat and others to ensure that Ghana made a position impact at the programme.

Ghana and many parts of the world have for years been battling unregulated, uncontrolled, and unassessed fishing activities that affect the blue economy and marine life.

Meanwhile, marine life is a source of revenue generation, health promotion, and hunger reduction.

This called for the need to organise the meeting to deliberate for strategies to control the operations of stakeholders in the fishery and aquaculture sector.

SOURCE: ANGOLA PRESS/BUSSINESS GHANA/FIJI GOVT