What new PIF leader Henry Puna thinks about Micronesia

PIF secretary general Henry Puna. Photo Wikimedia commons

The group of five Micronesian nations declared they were walking away from the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat after the appointment of Henry Puna as its new secretary general, dishonouring a gentlemen’s agreement for a Micronesian candidate to be appointed.

Now according to Radio New Zealand (RNAZ), Mr Puna said one if his priorities is restoring Micronesia to the forum.

Palau, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia have all indicated they are pulling out, although a review to consider future appointments is now underway

“There is a high level political dialogue process in place,” Mr Puna explained at the virtual press conference.

“It is still ongoing, and has been set up by our forum leaders to be confidential. I have no direct role in it.”

As reported in the Pacific Advocate recently, New Zealand has also pledged to be the peacemaker and try and rebuild trust with the Micronesian nations.

New Zealand’s High Commissioner to PNG Phillip Taula said, “We hope we can find a way through the current fragmentation and come together as the ‘Blue Pacific’ family to tackle critical issues.”

Mr Puna also spoke of other issues, confirming that climate change and Covid-19 are firmly on the PIF agenda. He said the pandemic had hit the region hard by exacerbating “already existing vulnerabilities because of climate change”.

“We all acknowledge that climate change is the most serious threat facing the Pacific, and we need to focus on what we can do and how we can engage with the rest of the world to get them to agree that this upcoming COP26 is a defining moment for our efforts to implement the rules as set out in the Paris Agreement.”

The former Cook Islands prime minister said “enough talk has been had already, and we need to put action to those words.”

In what appears to be a bold agenda, Mr Puna also revealed he would be looking to engage with large external powers, resolve the issue in West Papua and protect the Pacific Ocean from being a nuclear waste water.

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