Leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG)met in Port Vila Wednesday to discuss issues that continue to affect the region.

Following a welcome ceremony at the Convention Centre, the Prime Ministers of Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea delivered their country statements outlining challenges encountered by the Melanesian bloc.

Delivering Fiji’s, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said the Leaders’ Summit is happening at a time when the Melanesian region has assumed major international importance as the great powers of China and the U.S compete for Pacific influence.

“Let us also not lose sight of the truth that at this momentous stage in history, our unity as a region is of paramount importance. Acting together, with common purpose and aims, puts us in a better position to achieve our goals for Melanesia and Oceania as a whole,” Prime Minister Rabuka said.

“Together we can achieve so much if we support each other in our journey to economic recovery, especially through strengthening economic cooperation and trade within our bloc.

“As brothers, we will build on the solid foundation laid by our predecessors, strengthening our ties, our shared vision and responsibility for the welfare of our Melanesian people.”

Concerns about the impact of climate change dominated discussions.

“The threat of natural disasters will continue to be a persistent issue for the region, I am committed to working closely with you, my fellow leaders in advocating for climate emergency financing and building a more resilient Melanesia.”

The Pacific Leaders also attended the official unveiling of totems at the MSG Secretariat. The 5 totems, representing the MSG Members were worked on by the region’s carvers during the recent 7th Melanesian Arts & Culture Festival (MACFEST). At Wednesday’s special ceremony, the Leaders unveiled their respective country totems.