Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Cook Islands Prime Minister, Mark Brown has emphasised the importance of member states to ‘work together’ as Forum Foreign leaders meets in Suva Friday to prepare for the upcoming Forum Leaders Meeting in November.

“It is important to remember that in order for Pacific regionalism to work, we must be willing to work together to find common ground that positively contributes to the Leaders’ Vision.

“We must all be prepared to exercise some flexibility – to be prepared to adjust – for the future prosperity of the Blue Pacific.

“Today we will discuss a range of issues, from the geopolitical context in which we operate, to the opportunities and challenges presented by our priorities.

“The strategic opportunities before us are great. The onus is on us to step up and grasp it. How we strategically engage as a region, is of utmost importance,” PM Brown told the region’s foreign Ministers.

It is timely that with the ongoing regional processes, we will be able to find new and innovative ways to maximise the value of regionalism, he said.

“Indeed, a key deliverable this year will be the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan. Shortly we will consider an update on the progress made to ensure that a comprehensive and thoroughly owned and led document is ready for Leader’s consideration in November.

“The Implementation Plan is a critical cog in the machinery to deliver the 2050 Strategy, and as tasked by Leaders, will shortly be accompanied by a Review of the Regional Architecture.

“So, we have a strategy. We are at the cusp of endorsing a Plan.

“And we will shortly embark on a journey to deliver the architecture – our regional Team – to deliver the 2050 Strategy and Implementation Plan,” said PM Brown.

He said they have accomplished so much, there is still a long road ahead of them.

“I ask that we exercise foresight and keep these critical pieces of pending work at the back of our minds as we consider the prioritised agenda before us.

“I encourage deliberations today to be open, frank, and embrace the visionary principles we need to ensure that we deliver meaningful outcomes for our people,” he said.

Brown said the Forum have been through and accomplished in the last three years is nothing short of extraordinary.

“We developed and endorsed the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent as the overarching blueprint to advance Pacific regionalism for the next three decades.

“And we did this all under the extreme pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, which we responded to with arguably the most robust national and regional frameworks globally, keeping the health and safety of our people front and center of our policies.

“In the year 2050, those of us seated around the table certainly would have moved on from where we are today.

“But our youth – our future Leaders – will look back at this period as a key moment in the history of the Forum. It is they who will reflect on whether our commitment to regionalism was enough to achieve the Vision for the Blue Pacific,” Puna emphasised.

Forum Secretary General, Henry Puna said the agenda before the Foreign Minsters is comprehensive and is reflective of the increasing amount of work that is required to better position themselves as a region, moving forward.

“Strategic interest in the region is at an all-time high.

“But it is an opportunity that will not last forever.

“As a Forum family, we have withstood many challenges, changes and capitalised on opportunities over the last 53 years,” SG Puna said.

But this era, as one of our senior official summed-up quite aptly this week, this era is the Pacific century, he said.

“Let us not capitulate to external interests in the region, but rather, define and drive our own priorities in the interest of our people.

“In essence, this is at the very core of our 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

“If there is any advice that I can offer this august body it would be to engage frankly and honestly, and ensure that we leave here with clear agreements on the way forward on each of the issues we will discuss.

Your collective leadership is vital to our advocacy and solidarity,” said SG Puna.

Key priorities for deliberation on the agenda today, include the implementation plan of the 2050 Strategy, global and regional strategic trends and dynamics, the climate crisis, and a revitalised gender equality declaration.