PRESS RELEASE - 13th July 2010m - Five years after it was endorsed by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, the Pacific Plan has recorded some successes but there remains challenges.

In his opening remarks to the Pacific Plan Action Committee (PPAC) meeting underway in Suva, Fiji, Forum Secretariat Secretary General, Tuiloma Neroni Slade commended the work of PPAC as the body responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Plan.

"The PPAC over the last five years has played a vital role, in not only providing oversight and monitoring of the implementation of the Pacific Plan, but also in the setting of regional development priorities," said Mr Slade.

"In a fundamental way, the PPAC reformed the manner in which the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) are preparing themselves and organized to serve and support the people of the Pacific. There is no other regional gathering where all regional organizations of the Pacific, sit side by side with member countries to discuss how regional resources can and should be mobilized in a coordinated manner to address the key development priorities and challenges of the region."

Mr Slade pointed out a few of the gains and successes the Pacific Plan in the first five years implementation include:

. We have strengthened regional approaches for fisheries conservation and management through the work of FFA and SPC and more recently through the efforts of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA);
. Sub-regional shipping services for the SIS countries of the central Pacific have become operational;
. We have refocused our now principally through the Compact for strengthening development cooperation and coordination, in the implementation of key principles of aid effectiveness; Regional cooperation in the areas of audit and ombudsman services have been established and strengthened;
. Work on trade liberalisation, though moving gradually, have achieved steady progress and will continue to be a key priority as an integral component of achieving greater regional economic integration; and
. Work on the ICT progressing reasonably well with the recently endorsed Framework for Action on ICT developments.

But Mr Slade told the PPAC meeting that there continue to be significant challenges which call for staying power and perseverance. This includes:

. Strong political will is an absolute prerequisite, and must be maintained to continue the momentum in supporting the Pacific Plan;
. Resources must be secured to support Pacific Plan priorities and it is incumbent that partnerships with development partners and other regional stakeholders are properly nurtured and fostered; and
. The Pacific Plan priorities and initiatives must make a difference at the national level and bring added value to the efforts of member countries in addressing their national development priorities and challenges. Ultimately this is the real test. We need to demonstrate results - results which make a difference, results which add value to the lives of people.

"I believe that the last five years provide evidence of demonstrated effort and commitment of all concerned in working together to deliver real and tangible benefits for our countries and our communities," Mr Slade said.

The focus of the two-day meeting will be a range of regional issues, including the process of strengthening development cooperation, particularly the reports prepared for Leaders on Pacific Regional MDG Tracking, the Report on Tracking the Effectiveness of Development Efforts in the Pacific, and the Road Map on Strengthening Public Financial Management.

The PPAC meeting will be followed by the pre-Forum session of the Forum Officials Committee (FOC), the governing council of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, to be held 15 -16 July.