Press Statemtent - SG: "we must learn from the lessons of our past"

The Pacific Islands Forum has launched its 40th anniversary by seeking insight into "Pacific Regionalism: Past, Present and Future".

This was the theme of the first of a series of public lectures delivered last week by the Prime Minister of Vanuatu and Pacific Islands Forum Chair, Honourable Meltek Sato Kilman Livtuvanu, in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The lecture marked the launch of the Pacific Islands Forum's 40th Anniversary celebrations.

"These 40 years span a history of shared efforts by our Leaders, past and present, to improve the lives of Pacific citizens," said the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade.

"The Pacific Islands Forum's initiatives and development efforts over this period have been pioneering substantive and, I believe, notable successes covering the whole spectrum of modern development. In reflecting on the path travelled thus far, we must now pave the way for further gains and learn from the lessons of our past.

"In this 40-year journey the region has been guided by the wisdom and foresight of Forum Leaders, for it is their Vision for a region of peace, harmony, security and economic prosperity that Pacific communities strive for, so that we can all lead free and worthwhile lives."

Mr Slade added that there was still much to be done to achieve the Leaders' Vision.

"The catalogue of what needs to be done, in each Forum country and across the region, is long and the myriad of tasks exceedingly difficult.

"The 40th Anniversary Leaders Lecture Series presents a rare opportunity to not only celebrate our efforts and endeavours to date, but to also seek from our Leaders further guidance on the way forward."

Mr Slade said that in recent years, Forum Leaders have clearly recognized that the Pacific has moved, and by global forces is being moved, into a period which calls for new approaches to a whole range of shared challenges.

"The changes in an ever globalizing world intensify almost by the day, and so should we shape the content and pace of Pacific efforts for more targeted and effective cooperation and integration."

Mr Slade highlighted that the Pacific Plan has provided the region with a mechanism for shaping our longer-term future.

"At this 40th year juncture, it is necessary and right to ask whether we are on the correct path; whether we are utilising the Pacific Plan well; and whether it is helping Member countries and communities to take the region forward to deal with new and emerging challenges."

The public lecture was held on Thursday 3rd March at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Emalus Campus Conference Centre in Port Vila and broadcast to USP campuses across the region.

The event was held in the margins of the High Level Conference on Climate Change held in Port Vila from 3-4th March 2011.