PRESS RELEASE - 10th December 2010 - Creative, cultural and innovative industries offer unique opportunities for sustainable economic development in Pacific island countries, but initiatives to promote their development must be included in National Development Plans, says the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Speaking after a four-day Regional Consultation on the Cultural Industries, the Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade said that these industries could be developed from the traditional knowledge and rich cultures of the Pacific islands.

"Our Pacific island cultures are unique, and contain a wealth of traditional knowledge," Mr Slade said.

"There is great potential to develop industries based on this knowledge, but we need to put the legal frameworks in place to protect its use and ensure our communities benefit from our traditions."

"The Pacific Plan prioritises the recognition and protection of cultural values, identities and traditional knowledge for the opportunities it provides to build industries that promote sustainable development. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is pleased to be working with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Pacific island countries and development partners to build the national frameworks to protect our culture and knowledge."

The Regional Consultation on the Cultural Industries was jointly organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and funded by the European Union. It was held at the Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, 6 - 9 December 2010.

Among the actions needed greater attention at the government level to promote cultural, creative and innovative industries. This could be done through initiatives such as establishing interagency and private sector committees; building the capacity of intellectual property and culture administrations, coordinating and building capacity in compliance, monitoring and enforcement of intellectual property and traditional knowledge

Mr Slade added: "At the regional and international levels, the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) and international development partners promote the sector by implementing the Traditional Knowledge Action Plan. The Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have been assisted to formulate policy and legal frameworks to promote and protect traditional knowledge and expressions of culture. More countries will be assisted in the coming year."

He said: "This will help Pacific island countries to develop initiatives focused on promoting and protecting cultural industries. This could be done through the development of action plans, law and policy frameworks and selective administrative and policy support."

The Secretary General also emphasised that national stakeholders need to ensure Governments take measures to protect cultural industries in any trade and economic agreements they may be considering.

"Governments need to work with national stakeholders and make their positions on these issues clearly understood," Mr Slade said.

"With the right legal and regulatory frameworks, cultural industries have the potential to create strong, unique and long-lasting industries at the grass-roots level."