Dear Pacific Islands Forum leaders and ministers,

Pacific greetings to you. As you prepare to convene in the lead up to the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting, we present our requests for your consideration. We hope these requests will be taken into account as you deliberate the region’s desired outcomes for this year.

To the Pacific Islands Forum leaders:

Evidence supports that corruption poses a direct threat to national and regional peace and security, as well as the region’s ability to deal with the climate crisis. It is the main barrier to community development as it hinders governments’ abilities to deliver essential public services, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable community members.

Recognising this, we applaud your prioritisation of tackling corruption, as evidenced by various reform efforts at both national and regional levels. This includes the introduction of new national anti-corruption legislation, signing of international treaties, convening for numerous regional meetings on anti-corruption as well as the 2021 Pacific Islands Forum endorsement of the Teieniwa vision.

To fulfil key anti-corruption commitments, you have made, we urge you to prioritise allocating adequate funding towards addressing corruption. Furthermore, we request that you deliberately engage Pacific youth in shaping and monitoring progress on regional policy priorities and increase investment into building a culture of integrity amongst the next generation of Pacific leaders.

To the Pacific women leaders:

Gendered forms of corruption deepen gender inequality, hinder gender empowerment and constitute a clear violation of human rights.

Women are disproportionately affected by the impact of corruption. As the main caregivers in their families, many women are forced to pay bribes to access key services such as health and education for their children. Often, they are forced to meet demands for bribes with sexual acts. Additionally, when they want to raise their voices, unfair laws and practices often impede their participation in politics. As a result, their perspectives are largely absent in decisions that directly affect their lives.

This was confirmed through ongoing research conducted by Transparency International engaging Pacific citizens and civil society stakeholders in the region. The detailed findings will be shared as soon as it is completed, to support your efforts and those of the broader gender equality movement in the region.

To tackle the impacts of corruption on women, girls, and other marginalised communities, we request that further investment is made towards mainstreaming gender, specifically in the national educational curriculums and key government line ministries.

To the Forum economic ministers:

A region-wide public survey we conducted in 2021, revealed that Pacific citizens are keen to contribute to combating corruption but are not meaningfully engaged. A key obstacle they face is the difficulty in accessing public information. We recognise the progress some governments have made, such as enabling legislation and other special measures to avail access to public information, with notable examples like Vanuatu going a step further and establishing a specific right to information unit. However, gaps remain, and we urge you to consider strengthening the right to information legislation and to address further challenges with its implementation.

Secondly, our chapters have been working with key government line ministries and programmes such as health, public procurement, climate and infrastructure to strengthen social accountability mechanisms. These mechanisms aim to meaningfully engage civil society in public planning, budgeting, monitoring and tracking. We urge you to prioritise investing in these mechanisms of citizen engagement at the national level and advocate for their adoption as a standard practice regionally. Furthermore, based on our engagement with supreme audit institutions in our countries, we identify and put forward the request for your support in ensuring their independence and ability to perform effectively by receiving reports on time.

Furthermore, we earnestly request your assistance to ensure the deliberate engagement of Pacific youth in governance processes. We also seek investment into youth-focused programmes, particularly those that enable their economic empowerment through Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and seed funding opportunities.

We firmly believe addressing these priorities will support the advancement of the governance agenda of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. Your thoughtful consideration of these matters is highly valued, and we are on standby for any further information or support.

In closing, we express our sincere gratitude for your time, and we wish you a fruitful deliberation through the specific regional policy events this year. We look forward to supporting you achieve impactful outcomes.

Pacific youth supported by Integrity Fiji, Transparency International Papua New Guinea and Transparency Vanuatu. With solidarity from Transparency International New Zealand, Transparency International Australia and Transparency International Secretariat.