PRESS RELEASE - 17th October 2010 - The joint review of progress of implementation of the PALM 5 commitments between the Pacific Islands Forum and Japan was held in Tokyo, Japan on 16th October 2010.

The meeting, hosted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Hon. Seiji Maehara, was an opportunity to consider progress mid way through the PALM 5 2009-2012 three-year period and to reinvigorate support for the agreed priorities espoused in the Hokkaido Declaration.

The Pacific Islands Forum was led by the Forum Chair, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Hon. Edward Nipake Natapei and supported by Ministerial and Senior Official representation from the other Forum members and the Forum Secretariat.

Since the first Summit in 1997, Japan and the Pacific Islands Forum have enjoyed a relationship that has grown in strength based on mutual interest and accountability. Accountability in the partnership has been driven primarily by the review process and in this case a mid-term review. Other than to consider progress, the mid-term review also allowed an opportunity to discuss the medium-to-long term measures to strengthen the Japan-PIF partnership in preparation for the PALM 6 in 2012, and to reaffirm commitment to further cooperation in the international arena especially in the areas including climate change.

In terms of climate change, the Forum Secretariat provided an update on the implementation of the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) Fund and noted the steady progress and interest from Forum island countries and Japan to expedite the resource allocation and distribution of funds.

"To date, we have received seven country concept notes and have progressed two, inviting full proposals for final consideration," Tuiloma Neroni Slade Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat said in his update.

The PEC Fund is a US$60 million contribution by Japan to support Forum island countries' projects in solar generation and water desalination. A project management unit has been established at the Forum Secretariat to administer the funds.

In his acknowledgement of the ongoing support of Japan to the Pacific region, the Forum Chair, Hon Edward Nipake Natapei, highlighted the clear alignment of the PALM 5 support by Japan to the priorities of the Pacific Plan.

"The partnership between the Pacific Islands Forum and the Japanese Government is strong and well grounded, evidenced also in the support provided by the PALM 5 Action Plan to the key pillars of the Pacific Plan," said Prime Minister Natapei.

He also reminded Japan that the Pacific Plan at a regional level and Forum island countries' national development and sector plans, provide for development partners very clear guides as to where their assistance is most needed.

In looking ahead to PALM 6 in 2012, the Forum Chair reiterated the value in maintaining a mid- term review mechanism and added that it could be further strengthened by more regular exchanges between Japanese and Pacific Islands Forum officials to support and better inform the review process.

"Given the high level representation at this meeting, it must be supported by clear and considered progress updates and reports, provided by those who have been tasked to implement the PALM decisions and outcomes. In other words, that we are informed by a process that fosters mutual accountability," said Hon. Natapei.

The PALM review closed with a working lunch amongst the Forum Chair and Japanese and Pacific Island Forum Ministers and Senior Officials, to consider a number of matters including UN Reform.