Our children today will be the future leaders of the 2050 Blue Pacific.
This was the powerful message delivered by Fiji’s Prime Minister and the Pacific’s Early Childhood Champion, Honourable Sitiveni Rabuka, while officiating at the Pacific Early Childhood Development (ECD) Forum at Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa in Nadi this morning.
With the theme: Building Resilient Pacific Communities through ECD, the forum provided an opportunity for Pacific leaders, relevant stakeholders and the “Pacific vuvale” to galvanise collective efforts to secure the vision of the 2050 Blue Pacific via people-centred development.
Prime Minister Rabuka highlighted that our governments need to step up for our children and their parents.
“What this entails is that we provide the legislative mandate, political commitment, and financial and human resources to deliver high-quality services to young children and their families, especially those that need it the most,” he said.
“This also requires a whole-of-government approach.”
Speaking in his capacity as the Minister responsible for climate change, Prime Minister Rabuka said that our national climate plans on mitigation and adaptation needs to prioritise children as part of our overall efforts to build the resilience of our people.
“We need to join the global call for global financing mechanisms on climate change to prioritise programmes and services for young children and families,” he added.
“Failing to give children the best start in life perpetuates cycles of poverty and disadvantage that can span generations, undermining the strength and stability of societies.
“Early childhood development provides one of the most cost-effective, comprehensive, immediate, and enduring paths to boosting human development, as well as achieving climate resilience and sustainable development.”
The Prime Minister, at the same time, reaffirmed Fiji’s support in joining other Pacific governments to stepping up and making bolder and better investments in our young children.
“I encourage all of you to use this occasion to openly share ideas and experiences with each other, to collectively commit to even more impactful actions for our young children, and to find ways to solidify stronger cooperation across our Pacific Forum family.”
The official opening of the forum was followed by a brief “talanoa” by three young aspiring climate champions
who shared their stories about their island homes, the environment and climate.
A panel of discussion on early childhood education was held thereafter and the panelists were Prime Minister Rabuka, Tongan Prime Minister Honourable Hu’akavameiliku, Samoan Prime Minister Honourable Fiame Naomi Mataʻafa, Vice-president of Kiribati, Honourable Dr. Teuea Toatu and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General, Mr Henry Puna.
Meanwhile, the forum is being facilitated by the Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Development and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), with the support of the New Zealand Government and other regional partners.