The Prime Minister of Tonga, Hon. Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva opened the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS)–Kingdom of Sweden Ministerial Meeting yesterday morning Tuesday 10 February, 2016 at the Fa’onelua Convention Centre in Nuku’alofa.
The Hon. Prime Minister was joined by the Minister of International Cooperation and Development of the Kingdom of Sweden, Her Excellency Isabella Lövin; the President of the Republic of Kiribati, His Excellency Anote Tong; the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Fiji, Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, and the Chief Executive Officer for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Independent State of Samoa, Ms. Peseta Noumea Simi, to launch the meeting.
The PSIDS were founded in 2007 to give voice to the small island developing states in the Pacific, and over time has grown to include the 12 Pacific Island Countries with representation at the United Nations namely Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Tonga.
In his opening address, the Hon Prime Minister stated that this Ministerial and Ambassadorial strategic planning meeting is a timely and great opportunity for members to discuss the continued importance of the issues of sustainable development, oceans and climate change. He said with the support of regional CROP, United Nations (UN) and other agencies together with technical experts, the meeting will be able to plan and map out a strategy for PSIDS engagement at the United Nations during the year. He acknowledged the support of the Government of the Kingdom of Sweden to the meeting and also noting that Sweden is the largest per capita contributor to the Green Climate Fund, a source of financing necessary for members to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the Pacific.
Her Excellency, Mrs Isabella Lövin in her remarks said that the Kingdom of Sweden has shared interests in halting the impacts of climate change and restoring the health of Oceans. She noted that climate change is real, it has started and it is affecting everyone at an extreme level and if it is not managed and be more environmentally friendly there will be consequences in the future and to future generations. She urged the meeting that it is everyone’s responsibility to cooperate in facing these challenges. She also noted that this meeting marks the first Ministerial visit of the Kingdom of Sweden to the Pacific, and called for continuing deepening of the relationship between Sweden and the Pacific.
Attendance in these meetings includes representative from member countries and regional organisations including Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Director General of the Pacific Community; Mr James T. Movick, Director General of the Forum Fisheries Agency; Mr Francois Martel, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Development Forum and Mrs Osnat Lubrani, Resident Coordinator of the UN Regional Offices and Resident Representative of the UNDP in Suva. Attending from Tonga are Cabinet Ministers and Government officials.
The Ministerial meeting will be followed by a two days strategic planning meeting concluding onFriday 12 February 2016.
From left to Right: Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola (Fiji); Her Excellency Isabella Lövin (Sweden); Hon. Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva (Tonga); His Excellency Anote Tong (Kiribati).
Hon. Prime Minister of Tonga with participants at the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS)-Kingdom of Sweden Ministerial Meeting, Fa’onelua Convention Centre, Nuku’alofa