PRESS STATEMENT - Monday, 20 December 2010 - The Pacific Islands Forum and European Union last week launched the "Joint Pacific-EU Initiative on Climate Change".

The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, during his visit to the European Union in Strasbourg, France (13-17 December 2010), met with European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, on 15 December 2010 and through signature of a Memorandum of Understanding, launched the joint initiative.

The launch took place with the support and presence of Pacific Ambassadors, including the Ambassador of Vanuatu representing the Forum Chair, and Members of the European Parliament.

In welcoming the joint initiative, the Secretary General noted that Forum Leaders had proclaimed climate change as the "great challenge of our time".

Mr Slade welcomed this cooperation with the European Union and its member states as a practical and effective way forward to respond to the dangers of climate change and to the concerns of our Pacific communities.

He also acknowledged the initiative as a further major step in the partnership between Europe and Pacific; a partnership forged by long history of shared values and commitments and vested in the mutual benefits enjoyed by both parties.

The joint initiative also recognises ongoing work on climate change being carried out by Forum member countries and by relevant regional organisations. It seeks broader support by building on the Pacific's key international partnerships.

During his meetings and consultations in Brussels, the Secretary General met with Pacific Ambassadors and their representatives, key European Union officials and senior representatives of EU member states.

The Secretary General met with senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth in London on 17 December 2010 prior to his return to the Pacific.