PRESS RELEASE - 15th AUGUST 2011 - Pacific Islands Forum Smaller Island States have been commended for their implementation of the Forum Compact for Strengthening Development Cooperation endorsed by Forum Leaders in Cairns, Australia in 2009.

The Smaller Island States (SIS) includes the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

Opening the 2011 SIS Officials Meeting at the Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, today, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuiloma Neroni Slade said the SIS grouping, within the broader Forum membership has long been acknowledged as one that warrants special care and consideration because of the special and unique interests of this group of countries.

"Today's SIS Officials Meeting gives you the opportunity to consider issues that warrant your collective consideration, and where necessary agree on collective positions on those issues to guide your discussions at the Pacific Plan Action Committee and Forum Officials Committee meetings which will take place later this week," said Mr Slade.

Mr Slade pointed out that climate change remains a central issue in the development pursuits of the SIS complemented by the ongoing efforts to strengthen development coordination.

"Of note," Mr Slade said, "has been the commitment shown by SIS in the implementation of the Forum Compact for Strengthening Development Coordination."

Since adoption of the Compact by Forum Leaders, four SIS (Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Niue) have been engaged in a peer review and all SIS have provided self assessments on the status of their national planning, budgeting and aid coordination. Two SIS (Nauru, Kiribati) have gone further in the peer review process and have put into action recommendations from their peer review reports.

"These are strong signals that the SIS take seriously the lead role of governments in determining their own development agenda and ensuring that their capacity so do so is backed by strong national performance and accountability systems," said Mr Slade, Forum Secretary General.

Mr Slade urged SIS to continue to strengthen their networking with agencies of the Council of Regional Organisations for Pacific (CROP).The Forum Secretariat will continue its support to the SIS Unit with increased operations budget supplemented by contributions from development partners. The support includes the placement of SIS Desk Officers in the SIS.

The one-day meeting will discuss among other issues the Pacific Plan 2011 Progress Report, strengthening of development coordination in the Forum island countries and regional initiatives and issues in the areas of climate change, transport, energy, trade, and health.