South Korea, Pacific Nations Strengthen Relations

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Seoul, South Korea

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The relationship between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Pacific Island countries (PICs) has been further strengthened this week at the 2nd Korea-Pacific Islands Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Seoul, Korea.

Senior Officials representing the ROK, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) highlighted the need to intensify cooperation in the fields of climate change, development cooperation, marine and fisheries management.

On climate change, senior officials stressed the importance of implementing the recently adopted Majuro Declaration on Climate Leadership, by Pacific Island Forum Leaders and other global efforts to reduce carbon gas emissions. They also recognised the ROK’s efforts to maintain a key role in global climate change efforts, including the launching of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Officials agreed to continue efforts to address climate change through the early operation of GCF.

In the area of development cooperation, the ROK and the PICs agreed that a more targeted and mutually accountable regional partnership is needed to be developed between them. One that is spelt out in clear terms the specific areas of ROK’s assistance and the level of assistance needed to support its implementation.

This is a significant step in the right direction for ROK-PICs relations especially with regard to measuring effective development partnerships. It was also acknowledged that the scope of development cooperation needed to be broadened beyond Overseas Development Assistance with consideration of the promotion of private sector engagement, trade and investment and greater access to climate change financing as central to supporting cooperation between ROK and PICs.

The Pacific Ocean remained an issue of significant and equal importance to the ROK and Pacific Island Countries alike. As a mutually beneficial resource it was acknowledged that there was scope for PICs and ROK to collaborate in the field of marine resource management, marine scientific research and technology, capacity building, tourism, energy, and deep-sea minerals.

The meeting emphasised the importance of maintaining environmental integrity while pursuing the sustainable development of natural resources including support for increasing PICs’ capacity and surveillance on Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fisheries in the Pacific.

PIC representatives expressed their gratitude for the Korean government’s assistance in enhancing the public health and medical services in the region through the Primary Health Care Training Program under the 2011-2013 ROK-PIF Cooperation Fund allocation.

As part of meeting its commitments under the 2011 ROK-PICs Ministerial Joint Statement, the ROK reinforced its intent to reach the USD 1 million annual allocation in the next funding cycle – 2014-2016.

The meeting is expected to help expand the ROK’s diplomatic horizon and build a stronger foundation for cooperation between the two sides by contributing to PIC’s sustainable development and fight against climate change.

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