REMARKS: SG Baron Waqa at Welcome Ceremony

Remarks and Speeches
14 June 2024

Remarks by Mr. Baron WAQA
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum
13 June 2024, Suva, Fiji


The Honourable Sitiveni Rabuka, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji;
Representatives of our Pacific Islands Forum Members;
Representatives of the Diplomatic Corp;
My colleague Heads of Agencies of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific;
Forum Observer Organisations;
Representatives of our civil society;
My beautiful family, here to support me in this journey;
Ladies and Gentlemen


•    I look around the room this evening, and I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for humbling me with your presence at this occasion.

•    Ladies and gentlemen, what a privilege it is to stand here before you, as Secretary General of our beloved Pacific Islands Forum.

•    It is my great honour to take on this mantle, to serve our Blue Pacific Continent and its people.

•    At the outset, I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank my great friend, Henry Puna, for his stewardship of the organisation for the last three years. His achievements are numerous:

-    The endorsement of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent;
-    The 2050 Implementation Plan;
-    The Revitalised Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration; and
-    his instrumental role in bringing our region back together; to name, but a few.

•    Henry leaves a strong legacy, and I am committed to carrying this momentum – accelerating the implementation of our Leaders’ priorities, in pursuit of our common vision.

•    Ladies and gentlemen, as the Forum Chair mentioned in his kind video remarks, I have certainly hit the ground running.

•    May I offer my sincere gratitude and thanks to the people and Government of Fiji, for welcoming me back home. While I may have been the President of Nauru for two terms, Fiji is the home of a strong part of my heritage and one that I am so very proud of.

•    By the same token, may I also thank the people and Government of the Solomon Islands, for welcoming me so graciously to their shores earlier this week for high level consultations.

•    I look forward to making my way across the region to hear directly from your governments – from your people – their short- and long-term expectations of Pacific regionalism.

Vision for the region

•    Ladies and gentlemen, my vision for the region is for peace, harmony, and unity, where we as a Blue Pacific, are truly of one heart, mind, and accord. A region that promotes stability and security, with a culture of love and respect.

•    As a region, together we will stand strong and firm, and be an exemplary model of solidarity, support, and partnership. Our responsibility and obligation for each other’s safety, security and well-being will be of paramount importance, under my leadership.

•    We will encourage each other to achieve new heights in our national and collective regional goals, which must lead to prosperity for all.

•    Ladies and gentlemen, our PIF membership has never been as strong as it is today. But we cannot afford to become complacent – we must continue to work every day to build and strengthen our bond, to ensure the achievement of our regional priorities and aspirations.


•    And indeed, the Pacific Islands Forum cannot not, and will not, do this alone.

•    We are but one cog in a regional architecture in transition, working collectively to deliver for our people.

•    To my CROP colleagues, I am steadfast in my commitment to elevating our collaborative efforts to deliver tangible outcomes on our Leaders’ priorities. I look very much forward to our first engagement in a few weeks on the 25th of June.


•    These same principles, of course, extend beyond the oceanic borders of our Blue Pacific. To our key partners and development agencies, you will play a critical role in supporting our organisations to deliver for our people. We have come a long way, and the past few years have demonstrated your steadfast commitment to align yourselves with the 2050 Strategy and our regional frameworks.

•    I urge you to continue working with us to align our programming, to streamline delivery for the member states we serve.


•    Friends, family,

•    I come into this role, in full recognition of the expectation and the sensitivities that come with being a regional diplomat and civil servant.

•    As I had mentioned to the staff on my first day here at PIFS, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the region and our Pacific people.

•    It is an honour and a privilege not only for me, but for my family and indeed, my country to have this opportunity to assume the office of the Secretary General once again.

•    I will count on your counsel, on your guidance and on your support as I begin this era of service for our Pacific People.

•    Tubwa kõrI. God bless you all.

•    I thank you all very much.