By Pita Ligaiula
Members of the Pacific ACP subregion met in Fiji Monday on the fringes of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting to finalise a new partnership agreement with the European Union (EU).
The pacific has develop a protocol under the EU framework agreement, which prioritises environment and climate change, inclusive and sustainable development and ocean seas and fisheries.
The priority on oceans is part of the region of the blue Pacific agenda (and is not included in the African or Caribbean protocols).
Addressing the Ministers of Pacific ACP states and representatives of Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific(CROP) in Suva, Forum Secretary General Henry Puna said the meeting is taking place in a rapidly evolving regional and international context.
“The development and security challenges we face from COVID-19 to climate change, and ocean pollution – highlight the critical importance of regional and multilateral cooperation to secure our collective future.
“We need to be firm yet strategic in setting the direction and terms of engagement in the interest of our people and the future of our region.
Puna said Leaders on Thursday will consider the 2050 strategy for the Blue continent- which is their blueprint for driving the Pacific collective and priorities.
“Today’s meeting is an opportunity to discuss and agree on the regional course to implement the ‘Samoa Agreement’ and more broadly and to define the future focus of this unique grouping”.
Puna said the ACP Group of States has now transitioned into an ‘organisation of the ACP States’- OACPS, with deeper engagements expected between ACP regions and as a consequence between the regional secretariats.
“As the ‘Samoa Agreement’, comes to fruition, alongside our 2050 strategy, today’s meeting is an opportunity to set the course for PACP members’s collective work for the years to come,” said SG Puna.
PACP Chair and Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said as geopolitical and partner interest in the region grows – the group must be steadfast and firm in calling for a genuine partnership for regional development cooperation on Pacific terms in support of its regional institutions.
“Today, we will consider the implementation arrangements to the new partnership agreement between the Organisation of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Union- expected to be named the ‘Samoa Agreement’”
“I would like to acknowledge our ministers, senior officials, and our ambassadors who have worked tirelessly to finalise the Samoa agreement that is reflective of our Pacific priorities, in particular climate change and resilience, and oceans, seas, and fisheries.”
“In our discussion today, we need to consider how we move forward collectively to implement this new agreement. We need to ensure effective and efficient implementation arrangements that will respond to our regional vision and maximise the benefits for our countries and people.
Bainimarama said the new agreement also provides the Pacific with the opportunity to strengthen their collaboration with Africa and Caribbean regions in meeting their development goals.
“We must consider the future role of our PACP group. I invite you to reflect on the evolving regional and international context, the revised Georgetown Agreement, the ‘Samoa Agreement’ and the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific continent – to consider the future purpose, scope and mandate of the PACP group to serve our collective interests”, Bainimarama told PACP Leaders.