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Pacific Islands Forum Chair highlights priorities for the Blue Pacific at the United Nations

United Nations, New York:As one Blue Pacific, Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum are committed to implementing the Paris Agreement, effective ocean management and conservation, action to achieve the global sustainable development goals, and maintaining peace and security, Forum Chair and Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has told the United Nations General Assembly.

Addressing world leaders at the General Debate for the twentieth consecutive time, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said the Blue Pacific highlighted the potential inherent in the region’s shared stewardship of the Pacific Ocean and identified key priorities emerging from the recent Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Samoa, for which implementation would require urgent action from the United Nations. 

“Climate change remains a priority challenge for the Pacific region because of its existential nature and its security implications. Climate change is already happening; it cannot be washed away by the rising tides. It has significant security implications and its impact threatens the continued existence and viability as sovereign states of some of our low lying atolls. Even those countries, which have been in self-denial to date of the climate change phenomenon must surely now accept the weight of scientific evidence,” said Prime Minister Tuilaepa.  

“The implementation of the Paris Agreement is of high priority requiring collective action to address this existential threat. We are confident that Fiji's presidency of the November COP23 will focus the spotlight on challenges and the need for genuine partnerships to help us deliver on our "nationally determined contributions" as part of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The Pacific has also endorsed its Framework for Resilience Development as well as its institutional arrangements to support the elaboration and implementation of the Paris agreement.”

Turning to issues relating to the health of our oceans the Forum Chair said, “the ocean and its resources continue to be critical to the livelihoods of our people and region. The impacts of Climate Change, Illegal Unregulated Unreported fishing and overfishing are threatening the sustainability of this crucial resource of our region. The Pacific Forum members will continue to be actively engaged on all Ocean related issues of the 72nd session of the General Assembly including the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction process.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa said the Pacific region was serious about implementing the 17 sustainable development goals and that the newly adopted Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development demonstrates recognition of the importance of a regional approach to meeting these international commitments.

“We continue to count on the important role of the UN and our partners to support regional and national efforts for Sustainable Development Goals implementation, particularly the building of our capabilities. We look forward to the Secretary General's reform and how the Forum can engage to ensure its priorities in terms of its Sustainable Development Goal Roadmap and the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway, Paris Agreement and other regional needs are considered in the reform.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa said the Forum remains “committed to collective arrangements to assist regional governments recover from national conflicts and crises.” He cited the recently concluded Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) which “brought together peacekeepers from all member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum,” as a success story of regionalism and a tangible example regional cooperation and diplomacy.

“[Pacific] Leaders agreed to build on the Biketawa Declaration and other Forum security related declarations to expand the concept of security, inclusive of human security, humanitarian assistance, prioritising environmental security, and regional cooperation in building resilience to disasters and climate change.” 

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