PRESS RELEASE - The Executives of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) have expressed satisfaction at the progress of implementing the set of Pacific Plan priorities (2009 - 2012) endorsed by Forum Leaders in 2009.

The CROP Executives have also committed themselves to continued cooperation, including with other development partners, towards effective implementation over the coming years.

The Executives of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Pacific Islands Development Programme (PIDP), Pacific Power Association (PPA), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), University of the South Pacific (USP) and a representative of the Fiji School of Medicine (FSchM) met at the SPREP Headquarters in Apia, Samoa 9 - 10 June 2010.

The CROP Executives considered a number of issues including progress of their previous decisions, progress of priorities under the Pacific Plan including the process for the development of a comprehensive framework for monitoring and reporting progress under the Plan. They placed particular emphasis on the need to ensure that the progress of regional initiatives is grounded in results at the national level.

They reiterated that the Pacific Plan multiyear priorities agreed to by Forum Leaders in 2009 remain and should be proposed as a rolling set of priorities to be revised in 2012.

The CROP Executives noted that in addition to the standing Pacific Plan priorities a few new and emerging issues were discussed and these will be brought to the attention of the Pacific Plan Action Committee. These emerging areas include coordination of increased donor assistance in the area of Climate Change, the necessity to finalise the delineation of permanent maritime boundaries, focus on increasing literacy and numeracy rates in selected Pacific Island countries, water and sanitation, expansion of disaster risk management and the state of capacity by way of engineers and managers in many electricity utilities in the region.

The CROP Executives were pleased with the progress of the transfer of responsibilities under the Regional Institutional Framework (RIF) and with the support of development partners for the changes. The meeting was updated on the implementation of RIF with the merger of the South Pacific Board for Educational Assessment (SPBEA) into the SPC and the transfer of components of SOPAC's core work programmes into SPC particularly in energy and ICT. They also acknowledged and witnessed the signing of the Letter of Association (LoA) between SPC and PIFS on the transfer of technical functions in infrastructure.

The Executives also discussed the importance of ensuring gender issues are mainstreamed into their respective organizations' work as well as the regions priorities in general.

The United Nations was invited to the CROP Executives meeting as a step towards strengthening the collaboration between CROP and UN agencies in the region. UNDP and ESCAP expressed their gratitude in participating in the meeting and committed to continued collaborative efforts.

"As chair of the CROP, I am very happy with the collegial spirit CROP Executives have expressed towards working together across all aspects of regional programmes with a particular focus on the need for accountability and ensuring real benefits accruing at the national level," said Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General of PIFS.