Small Islands States Adopt New Strategy To Get Unique Issues Addressed

Smaller nations work for more recognition at the regional level

KOROR, Palau (Marianas Variety, June 29, 2016) – The Smaller Island States of the Pacific Islands Forum have adopted a new strategy to ensure their unique vulnerabilities are recognized and addressed as part of the regional policy agenda.

The strategy will see the Cook Islands, Kiribati, ‎Nauru, ‎Niue, ‎Palau, The Republic of the ‎Marshall Islands, and ‎Tuvalu working together to ensure mutual benefit and improved development outcomes.

“This is a very important strategy for the Smaller Island States. We want sustainable development for our people and for the SIS to collectively play a dynamic role in shaping the direction of development in the broader Pacific region,” said the president of Palau and meeting chair, Tommy E. Remengesau Jr.

Due to their size and location, the SIS countries share vulnerabilities when it comes to their economic capacity, limited land-based resources, and distance to markets. The strategy prioritizes five key areas which are of specific importance to the SIS — climate change, mobility, health, marine, and air and sea transportation.

The effects of climate change on the States was recognized as the single most important issue they face and the strategy will focus on collectively accessing climate finance through a joint proposal. It also calls for a scoping of prospects for a regional climate fund to accelerate and expand funding options in future.

The mobility of labor across the region was also highlighted as an issue of particular importance to the SIS. One element of the strategy suggests mapping current labor flows across the region to establish a better understanding of the opportunities that exist for workers from SIS members. Consideration is also given to free movement of skilled labor within the region when linked to regional disaster response and trade and investment opportunities.

The strategy acknowledges the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in the SIS and calls for a response that looks beyond the health sector. Working with the NCD Roadmap, the strategy directs effort towards enforcing controls, sustainable financing, policy and legislation development, and enhanced awareness and education campaigns.

Together, the SIS are custodians of the largest portion of the Pacific Ocean and the strategy focuses on several key marine issues including implementation of the Roadmap for Sustainable Fisheries, expanded surveillance to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and increased research to better understand and preserve the ocean and its resources.

Air and sea transportation services have been an ongoing challenge for SIS. The Strategy concentrates efforts on constructive political dialogue to secure fair and equitable air service agreements. Additionally, it reiterates the sovereignty of the upper air space of the SIS and asks for work to be done to ensure options for its greater management and control.

The two-day SIS gathering included dialogues with key development partners and Council of Regional Organizations of the Pacific agencies, to help secure funding and expertise for the priorities.

“Endurable and genuine partnerships are critical to the success of this strategy and we are pleased with the generous offers of support and assistance that have been made by our partners during this week,” said President Remengesau.

The strategy was developed over the last six months by the Forum Secretariat in close consultation with the governments of the SIS. The Forum Secretariat will now work with the SIS to finalize an implementation plan which will be presented to all the Forum Leaders when they meet in Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia in September.

Marianas Variety
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