PRESS STATEMENT [Monday 11th July, 2011, Nadi, Fiji] - Development partners must work hand-in-hand with island countries.

This was the crux of the message delivered today by the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, in opening the 2011 Pacific Island Countries/ Development Partners Meeting today in Nadi, Fiji.

"I strongly advocate the notion of partnership in development," said Mr Slade. "There must be clarity in the articulation of development priorities at the national and regional level. And it is incumbent on development partners to align and harmonise their development assistance with those clearly enunciated development priorities."

Mr Sladed added that island countries on the other hand, should also demonstrate their commitment to achieving those development priorities by prioritizing the allocation of their own development resources in support of those declared national priorities.

Mr Slade welcomed the important opportunities presented by the PIC/Partners Meeting and the demonstration of interest and commitment by development partners in their presence in numbers and readiness to dialogue with island countries.

The PIC/Partners meeting provides for the most comprehensive consultative mechanism between Pacific island countries and all the region's development partners.

The Pacific Plan
"At the regional level, the Pacific Plan remains the center of regional development and the platform for regional cooperation and integration to support collective responses in addressing regional development priorities," said Mr Slade.

"The role of development partners in the development of the region, in collaboration with island countries, is at the heart of the Pacific Plan. This is an acknowledgement of the significant contribution that development partners contribute to the sustainable development of the region."

The Pacific Plan was adopted by Forum Leaders in 2005 as the master strategy for strengthening regional cooperation and integration. The Pacific Plan is based on the concept of regionalism: that is, countries working together for their joint and individual benefit.

The Forum's Compact
Updates on implementation of the Forum's Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination, which was adopted by Forum Leaders in 2009, will feature prominently on this year's PIC/Partners agenda.

The Compact sets out collective actions designed to strengthen coordination and use of all development resources in the Pacific, in line with international best-practice as expressed in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, the Accra Action Agenda and Pacific Principles on Aid Effectiveness.

The Compact is based on principles which reflect the shared commitment of Forum Island Countries and development partners to lifting the economic and development performance of the region.

"The Compact, since its adoption by Forum Leaders in 2009, is the subject of serious discussion and much effort," said Mr Slade.

"The Compact is firmly rooted in the Pacific Plan. The centrality of the Pacific Plan and national development plans are explicitly acknowledged by the Forum Compact, which reinforces principles of ownership, alignment, harmonisation and mutual accountability, all of which are central to the kinds of effective partnerships we are working so hard to build and strengthen."

...And beyond
Global reporting on aid effectiveness will also feature prominently at this year's PIC/Partners meeting.

"This year marks the 4th High Level Forum (HLF-4) on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea, where the international community will come together to consider and refocus the vision of development cooperation globally," said Mr Slade.

"An opportunity is given in this meeting to extrapolate the evidence and consolidate a set of common policy and thematic imperatives to inform a Pacific position to the High Level Forum in Korea."

PIC/Partners will also consider the region's progress and need for accelerated efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with a particular emphasis on Health.

The 2011 PIC/Partners Development Partners concludes on Wednesday 13th July.