Rarotonga, Cook Islands, 24/08/12 - The review of the Pacific Plan scheduled for next year is an opportunity to reflect on the Plan's successes, challenges and future directions.Addressing a session on successes and challenges of the Pacific Plan at the 2012 Pacific Islands News Association - Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Forum Regional Media Workshop underway in Rarotonga, Feleti Teo, Deputy Secretary General of the Secretariat said that since the Plan was endorsed by Forum Leaders in 2005, it has so far been reviewed once, in 2009.
"It is now time for the Plan to be reviewed again. Initial work on the review will start later this year, with country consultations to start in early next year. Findings from the review will be reported to Leaders in late 2013," said Mr Teo.
"This review is likely to be led by an Eminent Person, which is an issue Leaders will discuss over the coming week. It will provide an opportunity to reflect on the Plan's successes so far, to take note of challenges and identify how they can be addressed, and to think carefully about how the Plan can best guide the Pacific region into the future."
Mr Teo added: "The end result will be a refreshed Pacific Plan that represents the region's highest aspirations and that will help guide the region through the next decade."
On the key successes of the Pacific Plan so far, Mr Teo said: "A key strength of the Pacific Plan is that it has provided a broad framework for directing and assessing regional integration in key priority areas."
Mr Teo highlighted how the Pacific Plan had shown several successes and strengths, including:
. Encompassing and bringing together other more specific strategies that Leaders have endorsed-such as the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Effectiveness, and the Waiheke Declaration on Sustainable Economic Development;
. Improving collaboration and cooperation between agencies in the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP). CROP agencies work on a range of priorities and important sectors, but the Pacific Plan helps to align this work to the agreed regional priorities;
. Monitoring progress across a broad range of regional priorities. A simplified performance framework for the Plan has been developed and trialed this year to help streamline the monitoring process; and
. Strengthening national connections with regional initiatives through Desk Officers in the Smaller Island States and Vanuatu. There are further plans to appoint Pacific Plan Desk Officers in Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.
However, Forum Secretariat Deputy Secretary General Mr Teo also acknowledged that the Pacific Plan has faced challenges.
"Perhaps key among these is the challenge of incorporating national priorities into a regional strategy. It is important that the Pacific Plan is not seen to be imposing a regional agenda that is inconsistent with national agendas".
Other challenges include:
. The need to continue to identify which country priorities benefit most from regional cooperation and integration, and which are best addressed at the national level;
. The need to ensure that the Plan's monitoring is comprehensive and efficient and not causing burdens, but making it easier and more rewarding;
. The importance of building the understanding about the role of the Pacific Plan; and
. The need to clarify the links between the regional and sub-regional groupings as, by nature, the Plan has a regional focus.
Mr Teo said the Pacific Plan can address these challenges and build on past successes as it moves into the future. It also needs to adapt to respond to the changing global agenda, and to guide the region towards new opportunities.
The annual two-day PINA-PIFS Forum Regional Media Workshop is attended by 15 senior journalists from the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. It is funded by Australia's AusAID.
The workshop provides the opportunity for the journalists to have a good understanding of issues to be discussed at the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum to be held in Rarotonga and Aitutaki, Cook Islands, 27 - 31 August.