Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown says he want to leave the Forum in a better place for the incoming Chair to build upon further.

In his remarks at the Pacific Islands Forum ceremonial welcome last night, Brown said ‘Our Pacific Vision’ is for a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity, so that all Pacific people can lead free, healthy, and productive lives.

“As Chair, I want to contribute to that vision during my tenure. I want to leave the Forum in a better place for the incoming Chair to build upon further. I would like to build new partnerships and refresh existing priorities so that we can deliver on the goals of the 2050 strategy.

“Through the 2050 Implementation Plan, the Cook Islands would like to see Pacific Partnerships for Prosperity that will realise new finance flows into the region for climate change and weather ready investments; progress gender equality; reinvigorate the Rarotonga treaty for a nuclear free Pacific; strengthen cyber security; build scientific knowledge of our ocean; eliminate plastics from our environment; and address the challenges of labour mobility and climate mobility,” PM Brown stated.

Building partnerships is at the very core of the Forum and the Cook Islands understands that we need the Members, our Secretariat and our development partners to work closely together to achieve the necessary actions to move forward, he said.

“The Pacific is a focus for many diverse partners in this moment of time. Change brings challenges as well as opportunities.

“In some ways, the Secretariat will also need to change to meet these new challenges and support members harness the opportunities a post COVID world offer,” he said.

PM Brown said the delivery of the 2050 Strategy and Implementation plan will guide the path the Members and the Forum Secretariat will need to take to manage regional development and dynamics.

“We will need our Secretariat to once again, step up to our challenges, and respond to our Members needs, just as the Secretariat has done so many times in the past.

The Cook Islands commits to working closely with all our Members and our Secretariat in advancing our Pacific priorities during our Chair role. We commit to working closely with our CROP agencies, development partners, our civil society and private sector regional representatives in our collective efforts to serve our Pacific people.” he said.

Brown said he looks forward to working closely with Fijian Prime Minister Rabuka and Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni and the Forum Secretariat to properly operationalising the Forum Troika.

This week, Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM), Brown said will discuss our forward regional economic priorities, and collective actions.

“FEMM, the first of our Ministerial meetings leading up to the Leaders gathering in November, will set our ambition and pace. I encourage our proactive engagement in discussions, so our recommendations deliver transformative benefits for our Pacific people.

“Come November, when our Leaders gather in Rarotonga and Aitutaki, let us bring to fruition partnerships for prosperity for Pacific people, by ensuring “Our Voices, Our Choices, the Pacific Way – Promote, Partner, Prosper” is delivered through our 2050 Strategy and Implementation Plan.

I look forward to welcoming all our Leaders and their delegations, development partners and CROP agencies, supported by our Secretariat, to the Cook Islands for the Leaders meeting in November,” he said.