PRESS RELEASE - 1st August 2010

The 41st Pacific Islands Forum theme of navigating the region's opportunities and challenges while addressing those most vulnerable in the region's communities, the Pacific Plan, Cairns Compact, climate change and security issues will be high on the agenda of Forum Leaders when they meet in Port Vila, Vanuatu 3 - 6 August.

Speaking to a Forum Media workshop which got underway in Port Vila today, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade said the current status of the Pacific Plan and its implementation will be among the issues to be considered by Leaders.

"The Pacific Plan is in its fifth year of operation and the Pacific Plan Action Committee (PPAC) has played a vital role, not only providing oversight and monitoring of the implementation of the Pacific Plan, but also in the setting of regional development priorities," said Mr Tuiloma.

A report on the progress of the implementation of the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination in the Pacific adopted by Forum Leaders last year will also go before the Leaders' meeting in Port Vila.

The Cairns Compact was developed to bring about new determination and invigorated commitment to lift the economic and development performance of the region.

"The Pacific Plan states and reflects the Leaders' agreed priorities for the Pacific region, while the Cairns Compact is a statement of the way in which these priorities should be implemented," Mr Slade explained to the national and regional journalists attending the workshop.

On the other priority issue of climate change, the Forum Leaders will discuss the mid-term review of the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change and its accompanying action plan, which provides an over-arching strategy to ensure that national and regional climate change initiatives are relevant and coherent.

Mr Slade added: "In anticipation of a significant flow of funds to the region as a result of the outcomes of the Copenhagen Climate Change meetings held in December 2009, Leaders will consider a set of principles to guide Forum members, regional organizations and development partners on the coordination of resources for responding to climate change."

As the Biketawa Declaration celebrates its 10th anniversary, the Forum Leaders meeting in Port Vila, will discuss several reports on activities carried out under this regional security mechanism.

The Declaration adopted by Forum Leaders at their meeting in 2000 outlines guiding principles for good governance, democracy and respect for the rule of law and human rights. It provides for collective action by the Forum in the event of crises in the region.

It has been instrumental in providing Forum assistance to members from the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and the Pacific Regional Assistance to Nauru (PRAN).

"The Biketawa Declaration also provided the mechanism for the Forum's responses to developments in Fiji since late 2006, including Fiji's eventual suspension of its participation in the Forum," said Mr Slade.

He said: "Reports on these activities, including the outcomes of the Forum Ministerial Standing Committee (FMSC) on RAMSI, the cessation of PRAN and the transition to other forms of assistance to help Nauru, and a report of the Ministerial Contact Group on Fiji will be discussed by Leaders in Port Vila."

Mr Slade told the media workshop that a range of issues which continually pose a threat to regional stability including small arms and light weapons (SALW),drug trafficking, criminal deportees, sexual and gender based violence, money laundering, organized crime, people smuggling, human trafficking and commercial fraud. These issues, which have been highlighted in the 2010 Pacific Transnational Crimes Assessment Report, will be brought to the attention of the Leaders.

"In particular, Forum Leaders are being asked to support activities in the region to address the threat of small arms and light weapons, as well as efforts underway to address the impacts of sexual and gender based violence, including ensuring all individuals have equal protection and access to justice," Mr Slade said.

Forum Leaders will also discuss the outcomes of a range of regional Ministerial meetings on issues such as youth and sport, regional approaches to supporting people with disabilities, fisheries and law enforcement cooperation and energy matters.

The Forum Leaders meetings will start on Tuesday 3rd August with a meeting of the Smaller Islands States Leaders and the Pacific ACP Leaders to be followed by the opening of the 41st Forum and plenary session on 4th August and the Leaders' Retreat on 5th August. Forum Leaders will meet with the region's development partners in the Post-Forum Dialogue on 6th August.