By Pita Ligaiula in Port Vila
Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Henry Puna has issued a challenge to the Pacific media to be bold in their reporting on issues affecting the region.
Speaking at the opening of the Pacific Islands Forum Ministers Meeting (FEMM) Media workshop Tuesday, Puna encourage local journalists in Vanuatu and the region to be bold.
“Be bold in your reporting and be bold in the way you craft and shape our regional narratives about our own efforts to make our way in this world, as a Blue Pacific Continent.
“Each of you, together with your regional media colleagues, have made an instrumental impact, capturing and shaping the narrative of your Leaders and Ministers who have led collective action and advocacy on regional priorities since the Forum was established just over 50 years ago.
“Our media partnerships are and continues to be very crucial to our work at the regional level and I am a strong champion of convenings such as this which bring together new and experienced journalists to share knowledge, experiences and to shape the stories on our efforts to collectively progress our development priorities – of which, meetings such as the Forum Economic Ministers are important.
“Indeed, these media partnerships have helped to cement awareness of the Forum and our members, of the importance of regionalism and leaving no one behind, and the core message that as a sea of islands, we are stronger, when we are together, SG Puna told journalists in Port Vila.
He also paid tribute to media elders in Vanuatu.
“Our media partners, thank you for joining us today. Allow me to offer a special welcome to the media elders of Vanuatu – I pay tribute to your service and commitment as Pacific news pioneers past and present,” said SG Puna.
Puna said it has been two years since the region’s Economic Ministers have gathered in person to discuss and share experiences on regional challenges and opportunities that they can all work collectively on to navigate the complexities of the challenges before us.
“We are in unprecedented times and face unprecedented challenges and opportunities. The onus now lies with us to seize these opportunities and with it, heighten our visibility as an influential bloc at the global level,” he said.
SG Puna said this year’s meeting is momentous as it will shape key regional initiatives moving forward, including:
*The new 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and how this can contribute to shaping and refining our collective economic aspirations moving forward;
*Economic recovery and stability. This will be a key issue for discussion at the meetings over the next few days and I am in no doubt that the in-person nature of this engagement will allow for a freer and more frank exchange of views.
*We will also consider and discuss the next steps on the regionally developed Pacific Resilience Facility(PRF) which has the potential to provide the means of implementing to execute a number of critical priorities under the 2050 Strategy and the forthcoming Blue Pacific Economic Strategy. As you well know, Forum Leaders and Forum Finance and Economic Ministers are fully committed to the PRF, and we look forward to further discussions at the FEMM.
Puna also said Ministers will also consider climate and disaster risk finance opportunities in the region, including an update on the critical regional climate finance agenda.
“Our region is strategically positioned to leverage opportunities and make substantive progress across many of our priorities, including the opportunity to strengthen old partnerships and nurture new ones to assist us in our efforts.
“I am firmly confident that the values of unity and regional cooperation have taken our leaders through some defining moments in Pacific and global history will continue to assure us of the same if we are able to maintain our own solidarity,” said SG Puna.
He also thanked Fiji and Vanuatu for their leadership as co chairs of the development of the 2050 strategy.
Puna said the 2050 strategy for our Blue Pacific continent will shape the way they work at the Forum, and how our global and regional partners are working with the region.
“Most pertinently, this strategy invites a reset in the way we view our Blue Pacific, and our one Blue Planet and further, and also invites a mindset shift for all leaders, in all walks of Pacific life. Importantly, the 2050 strategy is a shift we own, developed by and for the people of the Pacific,” said SG Puna.
FEMM officials will start their meeting today ahead of the Ministerial on Thursday.