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Smaller Islands States underline solidarity at 48th Pacific Islands Leaders Forum Leaders Meeting

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Apia, Samoa (September 5, 2017) – Strengthening solidarity amongst themselves on issues of common and special interest will be fundamental for Smaller Islands States (SIS) bloc, within the Pacific Islands Forum.

The SIS Leaders Meeting was the first of the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting week in Samoa; this year's meeting theme is: The Blue Pacific: Our sea of islands – security through sustainable development, management and conservation.

Acknowledging the support of Council of Regional Organization or CROP agencies to their specific national plans and regional commitments, SIS Leaders called for specific timelines against the implementation of their decisions, under their 2016-2020 SIS Strategy.

The Leaders agreed to explore options on how to better manage their airspace to maximize returns; the Leaders emphasised the importance of facilitated, political dialogue between SIS and Forum Leaders on the need for equitable and fair air services agreements in the region.

The outgoing chair, the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Hon. Henry Puna handed over the chair to the President of Nauru H.E Baron Waqa. Opening statements were delivered by incoming chair of the SIS Leaders H.E Baron Waqa and by Dame Meg Taylor, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General.

The Leaders observed a minute of silence in solidarity to their counterpart, the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, H.E Dr Hilda Heini, to honour RMI Climate Change advocates: the late Tony De Brum and the late Mattlan Zackhras.

"The passing of both men is not only a loss to the Marshall Islands, but to the Pacific region as well," HE Waqa said in his opening remarks.

"We all know that the waters that surround us is what sustains our islands and our people.  We owe it to our children and their children to ensure that their future is one in which they can enjoy with happiness and with abundant blessings". 

Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, reminded SIS Leaders in her opening remarks that the agenda before them contained "issues of great consequence". "It also presents the possibility of joint-SIS proposals to the Green Climate Fund, an initiative which would require great cooperation, coordination and collaboration between the Secretariat and your respective administrations," Dame Meg said.

"Regionalism is as important to our agenda as ever. SIS positions on these issues cannot be overestimated."

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