The Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (PIANGO) has called for a Commission for the formal integration of Civil Society into Pacific regional architecture to lift the profile of CSOs.

Board deputy Chair Drew Havea, during the first day of the Regional CSO Forum, said they’ve come a long way through different modality, different level of engagements, from submitting Communique during the opening of the Leaders Forum to providing statements during the Leaders-CSO dialogue yet with very little response.

“We need a CSO Advisor to raise the profile of our engagement, someone who will respect our voices and connect us.

“We still struggle on how to engage with our political leaders,” Drew said.

Havea said Technology and Connectivity is the seventh goals embedded in the 2050 Strategy, however, CSO are not connected and now is the right time to have a CSO officer within the Forum.

He said the appointment of subregional specialist with the Pacific Islands Forum was to move things forward and then the pushed for a five-year term for a middle management officer, but now CSO are back to ground zero.

The Forum Secretariat has over many years provided specific coordination and secretarial related support for the convening for the annual CSO Forum that provides a space by which CSOs from within the region can ‘get together’, discuss issues that are most important and requires elevation and agree on the manner by which to pursue these issues at the highest regional level.

Drew said the Review of the Regional Architecture (RRA) is very important for the CSOs engagement and the process they are seeing now may take a couple of years.

“CSOs have a lot of issues that can complement decision of leaders because we represent the voices of communities particularly on the struggle of West Papua’s independence,” he added.

The three-day CSO forum will support an increased understanding of the 2050 Strategy, regional economic issues, gender equality and social inclusion amongst other key regional priorities.