Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has called for urgent collective action to address the complex “polycrisis” threatening the Blue Pacific.

“Seeing everyone here highlights the strength and the solidarity of the Pacific security effort.

“All of us can build peaceful and prosperous Pacific communities by cooperating and learning from each other, said Prime Minister Rabuka in his opening address at the Pacific Regional and National Security Conference (PRNSC) in Suva today.

Rabuka outlined his government’s commitment to promoting peace on multiple fronts.

“My government is committed to building peace… at home, in the Pacific, and on the global stage.

“This is why I am so pleased you have gathered, in a spirit of friendship and shared purpose, to also promote peace and security,” he said.

The Prime Minister highlighted the importance of addressing the interconnected crises impacting the Pacific region.

“When I think about the legacy I want to leave my children and grandchildren… we must, work together to tackle the polycrisis before our great Blue Pacific,” he stressed.

Rabuka pointed to the futures exercise planned for Wednesday, which will explore the path to 2050.

Detailing the polycrisis, Rabuka first addressed climate change.

“The seasonal patterns our ancestors lived by are shifting rapidly, with more change ahead.

“Here in the Pacific, the difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 or 3 degrees is not subtle. It is a knife’s edge.”

“It is the difference between the habitability of our island homes and forced migration. It is the difference between economic sovereignty, and fully fledged dependence on external aid and disaster relief” he said.

He stressed Fiji’s commitment to regional support.

“For Fiji, as our capacity allows, we will continue to deploy humanitarian and disaster relief to our neighbours”

On transnational crime, Rabuka described the significant challenges faced by Fiji.

“Fiji, like all Forum members, also faces the challenge of protecting our waters against transnational organised crime,” he said. Highlighting recent drug raids, he noted, “The value of the drugs seized is estimated to be in the billions of dollars.”

He called for collaborative action against such threats.

“These criminal groups can only be disrupted and dismantled by all of us working together.”

Rabuka also addressed human security concerns, including the “triple burden” of non-communicable diseases, mental health issues, and the climate emergency.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the importance of biosecurity in our interconnected world,” he added.

Turning to geopolitical tensions, Rabuka advocated for declaring the Pacific an “Ocean of Peace.”

“The Pacific has become a geostrategic arena in the last decade or so. This is why I have been advocating for the Blue Pacific to be declared an Ocean of Peace.”

He emphasised that this concept should reflect Pacific values.

“Humility, quiet leadership, reconciliation and communication run through these definitions. The Ocean of Peace will be the Blue Pacific’s contribution to world order.”

Rabuka commended those working on national security strategies, including Fiji’s own efforts through its National Security and Defence Review process.

“This strategy represents a pivotal step in our journey towards a secure, stable and prosperous Fiji,” he said.

Rabuka also urged unity and adherence to Pacific traditions.

“We must build a great drua or waka together. We must work together to safeguard our Blue Pacific for this generation and those to come.

He also suggested a simpler name for the conference: “Could I suggest renaming it ‘The Suva Dialogue’?” said Rabuka.