Future Leaders Of The Pacific Meet In American Samoa

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Young people discuss challenges, opportunities for the future

By Ron Kubik

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Feb. 10, 2013) – Some of the Pacific Islands’ brightest minds have been told to prepare themselves to become "authentic, effective, and compassionate leaders."

The challenge came from the Governor of American Samoa, Lolo Matalasi Moliga, when he addressed participants of the Pacific Future Leaders Summit.

Held in American Samoa, the Summit is being attended by 25 representatives from around the Pacific – including three from Samoa. They are Karl Laulu, Toai Bartley and Theresa Penn.

Lolo told the young people that the issues discussed at the forum "impact the quality of lives of our respective peoples in the future."

"We are island microstates with limited natural resources, except the vast ocean that connect us and is the major source of our livelihood," he said.

"Sustainability is the goal that we need to achieve so future generations can depend on the same resources that we enjoy today.

"So an issue like climate change is of great importance because of its impact on our ocean resources, our coral reef systems, and our land resources."

Health is another key challenge. He said non-communicable and communicable diseases are a major threat to the vibrancy of the Pacific.

"We are greatly susceptible to epidemics and given our lack of resources to respond accordingly, we must find new pathways to ensure we reduce our risks.

"If we don’t, we will continue to pour into healthcare services, funds that we should invest to build our economic development capacity to generate jobs for our people."

About gender equality, Lolo said the Pacific is making great strides in this area.

"While our Pacific Cultures accord great respect to our women, the Western Culture harbours the perception that our cultural status designation of women is not acceptable by their standards. The Pacific Region is being transformed as the women assume a more dominant role in government, businesses, and community."

Governor Lolo also acknowledged with humility, the presence of the Head of State of Samoa, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi.

"The presence of his Highness Tui Atua underscores the equal acknowledgment by the Pacific Leaders of their sacred duty to prepare our young leaders for tomorrow."

And lastly, the Governor said Pacific leadership is unique.

"While we aspire to adopt western leadership and management ideologies, theories, and practices, we must exercise these western skills and competencies within our cultural framework," he said. "The youth of tomorrow must therefore learn to balance modern concepts and cultural dictates. This is your challenge."

Ambassador of the United States to Samoa and New Zealand, David Huebner said the Summit is to increase America’s vibrant participation in the Pacific.

"Our Pacific kinship is, in my view, a matter clear and settled," he said. "In my view, there is no better use of my time or government’s money than bringing together dynamic young people, exposing you to leaders thinkers and doers, stimulating discussion, building your capacity and confidence and helping you build networks among yourselves."

The conference ended Thursday.

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