PRESS RELEASE - 22nd February 2011 - The second regional workshop on the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination has opened in Nadi, Fiji with a call for more guidance and direction to the Forum Secretariat in coordinating the region's collective efforts to progress the implementation of the Compact.

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders endorsed the Cairns Compact in August 2009 to lift the economic and development performance of the region through more effective coordination of available development resources, and in order to ensure the achievement of real progress against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The first regional workshop on implementation of the Compact was held in November 2009.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop on 21st February, attended by senior government officials from Forum member countries, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade said the experience of the first year of the Compact has provided pertinent and very useful insights to the state of development outcomes and coordination in the region.

"Progress reports indicate, for example, that while efforts to enhance development coordination are accorded high priority, attention is still required to address identifiable gaps," said Mr Slade.

"Forum Leaders in their own assessment are calling for more targeted and streamlined action and results that are country led and co-ordinated, resourced and time bound. This is foundational work, and the essence of regional endeavours, if we are to achieve accelerated progress where every Pacific island country is able to point to measurable achievements in development outcomes, especially with the MDGs."

Mr Slade added: "The results from the first round of Cairns Compact reporting also suggest that efforts to improve development outcomes have been slow and uneven. The impacts of climate change, which are already evident and serious, the fragmentation and unpredictability of aid, and the weak links between county priorities and sector implementation and budgets, are just some of the key issues that compound the state of vulnerability of Pacific island countries, and the difficulties they face in accelerating MDG progress."

"The message of the peer reviews and country reporting on national plans seems to confirm as an immediate first step the need for more regular dialogue between development partners and Pacific island countries, so as to give practical utility and resourcing for the recommendations emanating from those processes."

As part of the implementation of the Cairns Compact, the region now has a Road Map for strengthening public financial management systems which builds on existing public financial management assessment tools and which calls for increased regularity of these assessments and scaled-up efforts from development partners to support recommendations of those assessments.

Secretary General Slade told the workshop participants that the Secretariat needs their guidance on a clear and coordinated pathway forward: in identifying, resourcing and monitoring of priority actions in improving development coordination; in improving reporting approaches through streamlined efforts; and in reinforcing focus on the Forum Leaders global commitment to achieving the MDGs.

The four-day workshop will also discuss two specific tasks mandated by the Forum Economic Ministers including the development of an Options Paper setting out options to effectively address issues of accessibility and management of climate change financing, and the need to define the role of Forum Economic Ministers in strengthening development coordination and providing leadership in respect of the Cairns Compact for Strengthening Development Coordination.