The new Chair of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare of Solomon Islands has highlighted the need for the organisation to start discussions on a new partnership with the European Union for the post-Cotonou era.
When accepting the chairmanship of the PIDF yesterday from the Fiji Prime Minister Hon Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister Sogavare said there are two key issues that he felt deserved the attention of the PIDF and engaging in its discussion through this platform.
He said the issues are the need to begin consultations on the type of agreement to succeed the Cotonou Agreement when it concludes in 2020 and resettlement of Pacific Islands’ people as a result of sea-level rise.
The Cotonou Agreement is a treaty between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States. It is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU. It has been the framework for EU’s relationship with the 79 ACP Member States.
“We know that one key partnership agreement with a key partner in the region will come to end in 2020. By this, I mean the EU-ACP Development Cooperation Agreement, which is commonly known as the Cotonou Agreement.
“Whilst we do have historical ties with the EU, the recent referendum in England (Brexit) may perhaps be the canary in the coal mine that infers that such historical relationships cannot be the sole rationale for such partnerships.
“We need to take the initiative to begin discussion on the platform of the PIDF and determine the type of partnership we wish to foster with EU upon the conclusion of the Cotonou Agreement.”
The new PIDF Chair added that, “I would like to see the PIDF provide leadership in the consultations as we engage ourselves in the mainstream of climate change mitigation and adaptation.”
On the issue of resettlement of Pacific Islands people affected by sea-level rise, the PIDF Chair said, “This issue cannot be dealt with solely at the programme level within the many regional bodies that are present with us today.
“Neither can it be reworked by our respective national agencies. In my view, the issue of the adverse effects of climate change needs political will and concerted leadership.
“The PIDF is uniquely placed to offer this space political and concerted leadership. The nexus between political commitment, concerted leadership technical know-how and innovative solution is present within the PIDF.
“This mix can be blended and brought together to deal with this pressing issue of climate change.”
The PIDF Chair further added that he had observed that development partners, particularly UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social for Asia and the Pacific) and the EU have made genuine progress on the issue of climate change and the PIDF must ride on the bandwagon of their partnership in this strategic approach.
“We need to be strategic and give political impetus to climate change and post-Cotonou discussions.
“I am convinced that if we can come together as a region to address the resettlement of our peoples, we will show the world that we are part of the global solution and not merely victims of the inactions of developed countries.
“Let us build on our Suva Declaration on Climate Change and consider how we might improve on mechanisms and linkages that will reduce the risks that we are facing now and beyond.
“As your new Chair for PIDF, I am confident that our actions and decisions will result in a stronger and more effective Pacific Islands Development Forum.”