REMARKS: SG to Pacific Conference on Governance - Pacific Youth and anti-corruption, climate change, gender equality

Remarks and Speeches
11 May 2023


Pacific Youth Spotlighting Anti- Corruption in Climate Change and Gender Equality

9 – 10am, Thursday 11 May


• Mā mua ka kite a muri, mā muri ka ora a mua – let those who lead give sight to those who follow, let those who follow give life to those who lead.

• Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

• Your Excellency, Hon. Naia Mahuta, New Zealand’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Disarmament and Arms Control and Associate Minister for Maori Development;

• Hon Simon Kofe, Minister for Justice, Communications and Foreign Affairs, Tuvalu;

• Hon Lynda Tabuya, Fiji’s Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation;

• The Consul General for the British Consulate, Mr Stephen Cartwrigh

• Members of the Diplomatic Corp;

• UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Fiji, Ms. Yemesrach Workie;

• The Vice Chancellor of the University the South Pacific, Pal Ahluwalia;

• Distinguished Speakers;

• Youth delegates and Representatives, Friends…

• Kia Ora, Kia orana, bula vinaka and warm Pacific greetings to you all.

• It’s a very special privilege to be invited to share the stage with today’s lineup

of distinguished Speakers

• This moment is even more special to me. It is convened by those I referenced in my opening whakatauki – our rangatahi or youth leaders. You are more than followers, you are already navigating our pathways to the future.

• May I especially welcome our very own Pacific Youth leaders, and take a moment to recognise the efforts of the organizers of this Conference, spearheaded by members of the USP Students Association.

•  I also extend my appreciation to multilateral partners here with us, through the provision of technical and funding partnerships, enabling young people to vision, shape, and deliver good governance initiatives in our region.

• I am further delighted with the choice of the anti-corruption, governance theme for this Conference.

• There is no better time to hand the baton of spotlighting anti- corruption to you, our youth, who make up a significant sector of the population in our region. I know the meeting this week has been a step forward, from your Youth Vision for a Corruption-Resilient 2050 Blue Pacific, adopted by Pacific youth in their Summit last October.

• Your pro-active stance on the issue of anti- corruption at this time in your lives, is reassuring. I am confident this initiative will snowball to a scale, where our Pacific future to 2050 will ensure less corruption, and more good governance. A future providing tomorrow’s youth leaders more access and delivery of opportunities, prosperity and meaningful development.

• The conviction, passion and impact which has brought about this Conference, is heartening to many of us gathered here, inspired by your efforts and energy.

• Hold fast to that energy, and ensure the legacy continues for those who will in turn follow your lead. Keep the momentum, and the ground you gain, in transparency and anti-corruption leadership.

• I was amongst those who gathered in Kiribati in late January 2020, to endorse the Teieniwa vision for a Pacific future free from corruption. And now as a regional servant, I thank you for your leadership, in ensuring the Pacific addresses the drivers of corruption that are, and will continue, to impede our collective efforts towards the peace, prosperity, and security of our Blue Pacific continent.

• I encourage you, to draw out the best of the outcomes of the next two days, to further strengthen your relations with partners, who truly share your vision, to build your capacity, to engage with the broader regional youth networks across the Pacific, and globally.

• So go, cast your net wide. Continue to practice diversity, inclusion and voice. Reap the rewards of insights from the generations before you, and apply those lessons for the generations rising in national youth councils, faith-based, gender and feminist movements, and lobbies across the digital, economic and climate spaces, to name a few.

• Friends, I want to take this opportunity to speak about the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, the formal and official blueprint, capturing the long- term vision and aspirations of our Pacific peoples. The 2050 Strategy is a recognition, that working together as one Blue Pacific Continent, is a powerful expression of our strength. The Strategy is a commitment to harness that collective resilience. It leverages our shared political commitment, our human and natural resources, in new and innovative ways, to transform our present and our future.

• E aha te mea nui o te ao nei? What is the most important thing in the world? E tangata, e tangata, e tangata! It is people, it is people, it is people!

• People are at the centre of the 2050 Strategy! And in the Pacific, one in two – almost 50 percent of our people, are between the ages of 15 to 24. That makes for a lot of young people. Young people who are already impacting, and impacted by, every aspect of development. We are witnessing and experiencing, how poor governance can ruin and reverse the potential of youths, in advancing national and regional development. We are witnessing and experiencing, how transparency and good governance delivers the impacts, for progress and truly sustainable development. Yes, at the core of all we do, it is people. It is people.

•  At the regional level, the Biketawa Declaration on Good Governance, the Boe Declaration on Regional Security, and the Teieniwa Declaration on Anti- Corruption, are a timeline of our changing times. They are also opportunities for synergy and effort, for anyone fighting corruption in the Pacific. Taken together, and woven into the 2050 Strategy, they ensure the Pacific has a fighting chance, to continue the work you will advance this week.

•  The digital age, amidst times of COVID and climate crisis, has also brought a new layer of transformative disruption and opportunity. Technology and Connectivity across the region, continue to nurture and deepen our key partners of our Blue Pacific strategy to 2050.

• At your Forum Secretariat, and across the regional focal points in this work, we are coordinating the development of the 2050 Strategy implementation plan, with you in mind. In collaboration with Senior Officials from our member governments, CROP agencies and regional experts through our multilateral partners, civil society, faith and academic institutions, youths and women’s groups. Our Leaders have spoken. The work begins. We stand ready and are listening to you, ready to engage, ready to ensure resilience, as we all bring what we share to the table, and ensure alignment and unity with the advocacy you do.

•  Friends, the 2050 Strategy is our collective response to current and emerging challenges, and most importantly, sustainably managing the great opportunities that are before us.

•  We will be looking to you, our youth, to pursue the mantle of leadership in your countries, for you are in the present, and best placed to navigate the pathways for the future, as you continue the handover to those following in your footsteps, and carve new journeys in our future-facing Pacific world.

• I encourage all of us to work together with the leaders and policy makers, for the advancement of the governance agenda in the region, especially under the 2050 Strategy.

• USP’s initiative has connected young people, both to the current regional political leadership and the wider community, empowering them to voice their anti-corruption concerns. To advocate for action. The work has also empowered Pacific youth to engage positively, in areas beyond right to information and anti-corruption.

• In closing, may I encourage more bridge building events such as this.

May you continue to highlight our Pacific experience, especially with regards to achieving progress on pressing global issues affecting us all, particularly climate change and disaster risk reduction.

May the shared learnings from the region continue to ensure Pacific youth can effectively access and influence policymakers, to build a fair and sustainable future for all.

• Meitaki ma’ata, vinaka vakalevu

• Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. --ENDS