Fiji takes over chairmanship of the Forum Secretariat today, presiding over the 51st Pacific Forum Leaders Meeting during which the regional organisation marks its 50th anniversary and United States of America President Joe Biden is expected to address leaders.
Biden joins the meeting, scheduled for a 10 am -start, at the invitation of Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, to also get first-hand updates on how Pacific island countries are coping amidst the climate crisis.
According to the Fijian Government, the leaders will reflect on the work and progress made in the region over the 50 years and discuss shared interests and priorities going forward including building back better through COVID-19 recovery strategies and addressing mutual concerns raised by Micronesian countries relating to the Forum.
During the meeting, the leaders will also consider a draft declaration on preserving maritime zones amidst the sea-level rise. Matters emanating through the Foreign Ministers, including preparations for the upcoming 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to be held in Glasgow and new applications from international Forum Dialogue Partners, are also key highlights of the meeting.
Bainimarama as the Incoming Chair of the 51st Pacific Island Leaders Forum Meeting said “As we commemorate our 50 years of shared aspirations and history in the Pacific, we also find ourselves at a defining juncture in our history and we are faced with unprecedented political, economic and socio-economic challenges across the region. This first meeting is the beginning of a series of meetings that will see Forum Leaders convene over the next 5 – 6 months to continue to dialogue and work through the challenges before us and to advocate and progress our priorities as a collective.”
The formal program tomorrow will also feature the handing over as current Forum Chair by Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano, to Bainimarama as the chair of the 51st Islands Forum and Related Meetings.
Founded in 1971, the Pacific Islands Forum is the region’s premier political and economic policy organisation and it comprises of 18 members: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Photo: Forum Secreatriat