Honorable Ministers, and
Good evening to you all.
Friends, I’ve enjoyed every minute of our time together this week. I was surprised to read online that we’ve been “thrashing out” our issues here in Suva. I think we can agree that our talks were as positive as they were productive.
Every day has been extremely busy and not every issue we’ve talked through was easy; but we are still smiling and we are still family – I think we should congratulate ourselves for that!
While our time together may be drawing to a close, I do believe without a doubt, that these past few days have seen the deepening of our solidarity. Being in each other’s company after two long years apart, helped us shake loose the cobwebs, so to speak. We leave here more assured of our region’s security and of the value of our peoples’ togetherness.
I think it also reminded us of something very important – that at the end of the day, every one of us is a daughter or son of the Pacific; a person just trying their best to serve the people that depend on them.
I am glad that the discussions at our Retreat today were frank and unfettered. We need these conversations to happen and often. No family can flourish without good and frequent communication – the same goes for us.
We all know that the hardest conversations to have sometimes are with those closest to us. But, I humbly ask that when we leave each other’s company at the end of this week, we take with us the unified spirit – the mana – of this time together; and draw on that in our future interactions.
Earlier this afternoon, we witnessed the launch of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. The ceremony held a poignant message. It reflected our deep appreciation for the past, while signaling a bold challenge and new promise for our future.
The Strategy emphasizes that the Blue Pacific is about the Pacific peoples, their future, shared values, and talents. It is about people who know their needs and potential; who plan and own their development agenda; and act collectively for the good of all.
Friends, in our current context, the urgency for our region to act in unison cannot be overstated. To make genuine progress in our lifetimes and beyond – on health; climate change; disaster risk; gender equality; social inclusion; regional security; ocean governance; and economic and trade development – a united Pacific, is an undefeatable Pacific.
This is our moment for action and of transformation.
As Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, I was honoured to stand with you, our Pacific Leaders, and vow to the children of our region that we will do all we can to mould a future that they deserve.
This commitment is not a new one. It is the basis upon which the Pacific Islands Forum was formed; it was the core of the aspirations of the very first meeting of Forum Leaders half a century ago – and it is the nexus between what is now and what can be.
At the beginning of the week, I mentioned the three deadly C’s that our region is grappling with – COVID, Climate and international Conflict.
That remains the current reality, but something significant has changed. We now return to our countries equipped with Unity, a Vision, and a Plan.
We can draw strength from the work we have done this week to deepen our solidarity – more secure than ever in our commonality. And we can gain new inspiration from a 2050 Strategy designed to help us navigate the often-choppy waters of development and partnership.
Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Distinguished Guests, as we part ways in the coming days, let us not forget the deliberations that have been had. Let us not take lightly the commitments that have been made.
Our success as a region is dependent on our willingness to work together. We must not let each other down, and we must not let our future generations down.
I wish you well as you journey back to your countries, and I look forward to working together to realize our vision of a safe, secure, and prosperous Blue Pacific Continent.
With that, let us now enjoy the time we have left together in true Pasifika style!
God bless and Vinaka Vakalevu.