PRESS RELEASE - 15th July 2010 - As the Pacific Islands Forum prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, a stock take of its achievements will be undertaken to reflect on its current and future directions.

Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade revealed this in his opening remarks at the pre-Forum session of the Forum Officials Committee (FOC) in Suva, Fiji today. FOC is the governing council of the Secretariat.

"Forty years is good vintage. But the value of the Forum and its Secretariat cannot be judged alone by how long it has been around; but, rather, by what difference the Forum has made to the welfare and lives of the people of the region it serves," Mr Slade said.

"As part of the anniversary celebrations next year, we are hoping to take stock of the achievements and to reflect on some of the lessons learnt over the years to guide the way forward to ensure the continued relevance of the Forum as the premier political regional organization."

Mr Slade said: "The agenda for this FOC meeting will be part of that stock take, as we seek to reflect on the current and future directions of the Secretariat as they are articulated in our Corporate Plan and the Programme Strategic Plans.

He added: "The Secretariat also needs to take stock of its resources and capacity to deliver on the strategic direction provided by its Members and the regional development priorities as set by the annual Leaders' meetings."

Despite the difficult financial times faced by Forum members, especially the Forum island countries (FICs), Mr Slade said, "the Forum Secretariat must have a sustainable resources base in order to provide some certainty in its planning and some predictability in what resources will be available to it to pursue and deliver its core functions as prescribed by you our Members and the governing council."

Mr Slade assured FOC that "with the institutional and organizational strengthening we have instituted in the last couple of years in terms of planning, budgeting, monitoring and reporting, and financial system and organizational reforms, your Secretariat is ready and capable to manage its house and affairs and to continue contributing to the service of the region well beyond 40 years of the Forum."

The two-day FOC meeting will discuss the Secretariat's strategic, institutional, staff issues as well as the Work Programme and Budget for 2011. FOC will also discuss regional security and a report by the Forum Secretariat Secretary General on the Secretariat's activities for 2009/2010.

A report on the decisions of the FOC meeting will be submitted to Forum Leaders when they meet in Port Vila, Vanuatu, 3 - 6 August 2010.

The FOC meeting is one of a series of meetings held at the Forum Secretariat in Suva this week in preparation for the Forum Leaders' meeting. The others were the SIS Officials meeting and the Pacific Plan Action Committee meeting.