The Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) will convene at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Fiji for their annual meeting, this week to discuss the region’s economic performance in the last year.

The 2023 FEMM is a critical opportunity for Pacific Finance and Economic Ministers to collectively discuss the key economic challenges facing the region given the current global volatility and the region’s shared vulnerability to external shocks and climate-induced disasters. Ministers are also expected to discuss the rising cost of living, heightened levels of public debt taken on during COVID19, high unemployment, brain drain from labour mobility and other key development challenges, including access to sustainable financing mechanisms.

The theme for FEMM this year is “Our Pacific Way -Prosperity for All” which connects to the work of Economic Ministers in deepening regionalism by strengthening policy cohesion on agreed regional economic priorities, challenges, and opportunities, for the well-being of the Blue Pacific. The theme is aligned to the 52nd Forum Leaders meeting which is “Our Voices, Our Choices, Our Pacific Way: Promote, Partner, Prosper” and speaks to the uniqueness of our “Pacific Way,” which recognises mutually respective, inclusive, and consultative processes for economic growth.

A Forum Leaders initiative, the Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF), is anticipated to be a key topic for discussion amongst Ministers as a regionally led financing mechanism that will support communities in disaster risk resilience building and potentially facilitate Loss and Damage funding for the Pacific region. The indication of formal support from Australia, New Zealand and the United States to support the establishment of the PRF has been welcomed by the region, with hopes that other Forum Dialogue Partners will also announce support for the region’s flagship resilience facility in the near future.

FEMM will also discuss an update on the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan, continuing the impetus from their Vanuatu Ministerial in 2022. The Resources and Economic Development thematic pillar of the 2050 Strategy endorsed by Forum Leaders at their Fiji meeting in 2022, has undergone widespread consultations towards a debut at FEMM 2023.

“The prosperity and wellbeing of the Pacific peoples are front and centre in the Ministers’ discussions this week in support of the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan. Key to that is a planned Pacific Roadmap for Economic Development (PRED) to be developed to ensure that economic aspirations of the 2050 Strategy is achieved. This work will be a crucial in ensuring that our people benefit where it matters the most, and that they experience the impact and value of the Pacific 2050 Strategy. Our economic challenges are diverse and real, and the Economic Ministers have been clear that action must progress the commitments made when they gather,” says the Forum SG Henry Puna.

SG Henry Puna said given the theme ‘Our Pacific Way- Prosperity for All’ and noting the focus on Promote, Partner, Prosper, for the upcoming Forum Leaders meeting in the Cook Islands, “I know Ministers and our team will be especially looking forward to welcoming Mark Brown, as the Prime Minister of Cook Islands and Chair of the 52nd Pacifici Islands Forum Leaders Meeting, to Suva.”

Forum Economic Ministers will engage with private sector, civil society leaders and youth building on a public-facing lecture event during their Suva sessions. Ahead of the Ministerial, Senior Economic Officials will also deepen preparatory talks on the PRED and PRF, participate in a workshop on Correspondent Banking Relationships, and support the launch of the World Bank’s 2023 Pacific Economic Update.

Noting the significant headwinds facing the global economy with the war in Ukraine, rising cost of living and supply chain issues, the 2050 Strategy, climate change and disaster risk financing, are also part of an ambitious and focused agenda aimed at leveraging regional collective political action and charting a course for attaining long-term economic prosperity in the Blue Pacific region.