40 years on, Forum challenges remain

WHEN Pacific Islands Forum Leaders gathered in Apia, Samoa, in 1978, the then Prime Minister Honourable Tupuola Efi said: “The basic question that faces us, is that of deciding how to re-define the rules to assure that the rights of small nations are adequately protected.

The guts of the issue is that we are small. We have to define the rules as we see them to protect our interests”. Forty years on, these sentiments remain key to our regional development considerations, as economic and social developmental challenges, exacerbated by the impact of climate change, require innovative approaches in the design and implementation of economic policies.

They were at the heart of the recently concluded Pacific Islands Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) which was themed Finance for Development Solutions. Addressing economic vulnerabilities is crucial given the Pacific’s inherent geographical isolation and distance from major global markets, dispersed population across islands, and narrow economic bases.

While addressing barriers to inclusive progress has been a natural part of development efforts, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders and Ministers are also considering options for sustainable approaches to weaning themselves off external fund dependency, particularly in terms of disaster preparedness. A few days before the week-long 2017 FEMM, a new $USD29.73million regional…..

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