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Pacific has the power

The Pacific nations have never held as much leverage and influence as they do now, said Pacific Islands Forum secretary general Henry Puna.

He made the remarks to the Forum Officials Committee members from all over the Pacific who have gathered at the Forum Secretariat, outlining the finer details for papers before the leaders meeting next month.

Mr Puna’s comments ring true especially at a time when the Pacific seems to be a prized object for superpowers for reasons none of the interested parties have declared yet.

For the first time, the power to make decisions lies with a united Pacific.

Mr Puna said the Pacific must protect the sanctity of our solidarity as the Blue Pacific Continent, and the interest of geopolitics in the region grows.

“A little over 24 months ago, our strategic context was redefined by the onset of COVID-19. Since then, we’ve navigated a world that had been unraveled by a raging pandemic and worked through national capacities that were stretched with limited resources,” he said.

“And as we begin to grapple with economic recovery following long periods of border closure, we must contend with yet another context – one marked by intensifying geostrategic competition that has catapulted our region to the centre of global attention in 2022.”

From left front – FSM President David Panuelo, Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown, PIF secretary general Henry Puna. Back row – Palau President Surangle Whipps Jr. Picture: Fijian Government

Mr Puna’s message is clear and has been repeated in the past weeks. The future of the Pacific lies in a united stand through the Pacific Islands Forum.

Slowly but surely, the Pacific nations have recognised their worth and how their stand will decide the power swing in the foreseeable future.
The Pacific Islands Forum is looking to table the Blue Pacific vision for 2050 for endorsement by Forum leaders in July.

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“However, in the context of strategic contest, this sends a clear message to the world of our Leaders intention to remain united as a Forum Family, and the promise that it carries for the realisation of our vision for 2050 – which will be tabled for final endorsement by our Leaders in the coming month,” said Mr Puna.

“Indeed, I do believe that it is timely that Leaders consider and endorse the 2050 strategy, particularly in the context of fierce geopolitical competition, as well as worsening climate change projections and impacts.

The Pacific nations have never held as much leverage and influence as they do now, said Pacific Islands Forum secretary general Henry Puna. Picture Fijian Government

“There is no secret that our key strength as a region lies in our ocean and its resources. How we secure it, protect it, leverage and benefit from it through regional political settlements, as well as regulatory, policy and legal instruments, will be core to the success of our 2050 Strategy.”

Puna said the collective wisdom of FOC is to ensure that the recommendations and policy options that they will take to the Leaders in the coming month will only serve to improve and strengthen ‘our solidarity as the Pacific Islands Forum’.

“Indeed, our relevance and effectiveness as a Secretariat is dependent on how best we listen to you and how seamlessly we can work with you in support of the priorities that you have set to be achieved, together,” he said.

The forum leaders meeting is set for July 12 -14 in Suva. Before that all Micronesian states need to pen in the Suva agreement.

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