Increasing economic returns from fisheries and responding to the effects of climate change are two of the priorities for the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting which opens in the Federated States of Micronesia tomorrow.
Leaders from 16 independent and self-governing states in the region including Australia and New Zealand will be in Pohnpei until Sunday to talk about the Forum's "Framework for Pacific Regionalism."
Another key area to be discussed refers to regional concerns about human rights abuses and self-determination issues in West Papua.
The Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor, says West Papua remains a sensitive issue for some Pacific governments, but one that needs to be debated.
She told a pre-Forum media workshop in Pohnpei that bigger countries in the region like Australia and New Zealand realise that this issue was not going to fade away as it is very important for Pacific.
The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor says West Papua is a sensitive issue. Photo: AFP
At last year's Forum summit in Port Moresby a decision was reached to push Indonesia to allow a fact-finding mission on West Papua.
The Forum has been criticised by civil society over the fact that after a year there's been no movement on this front - however Dame Meg said Jakarta has indicated it would not welcome a Forum delegation, and was uncomfortable with the term "fact-finding."
How the summit is scheduled
Leaders from smaller island states of the Forum met on Wednesday to talk about implementation of the recently endorsed Small Islands States Strategy.
This looks at addressing the unique challenges they face with climate change finance, air and sea transport, marine conservation, mobility and health.
Tomorrow begins with a leaders breakfast with Pacific civil society leaders who will give their take on the regional development agenda.
This will be followed by a meeting of Pacific leaders of the African Caribbean Pacific group on the future of the ACP group and trade matters.
An official opening ceremony for the 47th Pacific Islands Forum Meeting will take place in the evening in Kolonia.
The full Leaders Plenary Session with Associate Members and Observers will take place on Friday along with a dialogue with private sector representatives.
Leaders go to their special retreat on Saturday, with the Post -Forum Dialogue sessions scheduled for Sunday when Forum members meet with various partners to align development support behind policy priorities.
NZ must put more into Pacific climate battle - MP
As the New Zealand prime minister John Key heads for the Forum summit, an opposition Labour MP says this country has to make a much bigger effort to help the Pacific adapt to climate change.
The comments from Labour's climate change spokesperson, Su'a William Sio, come after OXFAM called for more aid to help countries adapt to changes that are already happening.
Echoing the OXFAM report, Su'a said Pacific countries continued to struggle to access the funding supposedly available through the Green Climate Fund.
He said the rules in place made it virtually impossible for the small and vulnerable nations to access it.
New Zealand MPs (from left) Louisa Wall, Su'a William Sio and Carmel Sepuloni. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades
Su'a asked what New Zealand would do if a major storm battered the most vulnerable nations like, Tuvalu, Kiribati, or Tokelau.
"We need to have a greater commitment and increase our commitment to the Pacific because the Pacific is sort of the canary in the coalmine," he explained.
"They are in danger and that danger in the Pacific will also impact on us."
Su'a William Sio is also one of a group of around ten New Zealand MPs who have been calling for the international community to do more to hold Indonesia to account for restrictions and rights abuses in West Papua.
HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — The quest for self-determination and voting rights, as well as the legacies of colonialism bound some nations in the Pacific, as mentioned in the Community Forum Series: “From New Caledonia to Guahan: Status Updates on the Decolonization Process,” which was recently held at the University of Guam.
Nic Maclellan, a journalist and researcher who has written widely on issues pertaining to the decolonization process said the situation of Guam’s quest for self-determination is replicated across the Pacific Ocean, citing the case of West Papua and New Caledonia.
Maclellan described West Papua’s continued bid for self-determination, where a violent conflict resulted in the death of thousands of people during the 1990s, and a determination of the nation’s political status in the future.
West Papua is a province in the far east of Indonesia, which shares borders with Papua New Guinea to the east. It was previously a Dutch colony and continued to be under its control until the mid-20th century.
He also focused on New Caledonia, a French territory described as a multi-ethnic society with an indigenous population of around 44 percent. According to Maclellan, the South Pacific nation will move into a referendum on its political status in two years’ time.
Maclellan also described the events leading to the referendum in 2018, such as the signing of the Noumea Accord in May 1998, which maps out the transition of the nation within a 20-year time frame. The accord promises to grant political power to New Caledonia and its indigenous population — the Kanaks.
According to Maclellan, New Caledonia’s experience could be used by Guam.
3) Border areas can become primer drivers of Indonesia’s economy: Ministry
Anton Hermansyah The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Tue, September 6 2016| 04:24 pm
The Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Ministry is striving to develop border areas where investors can put their investments, making them the prime drivers of Indonesia’s economy.
The ministry’s special region development director general Suprayoga Hadi said the government was committed to developing big border posts, where people could settle and create economic potential.
He further explained that in Entikong, a border post in West Kalimantan, which borders on Sarawak, Malaysia, Indonesian workers of various ethnicities, including Bugis and Banjar people from South Sulawesi and South Kalimantan respectively, usually brought their all family members there.
"Many of those people work in Malaysia, but they bring their families to stay in Entikong and send their children to school there. They visit their families in Entikong once a week, bringing them money they earn in Malaysia,” Suprayoga told The Jakarta Post at his office in Jakarta on Monday. If such a situation could be continuously maintained, there would be more skilled human resources in Indonesian border areas and this would be a good investment for the future, he said.
"Although we cannot develop prime infrastructure such as roads, since their development is the responsibility of the Public Works [and Public Housing] Ministry, we will build supporting infrastructure such as sanitation and solar cell electricity so the [border] areas can be developed further," Suprayoga said.
The government through the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry is currently carrying forward developments in several border areas. Nine border posts are to be finished by the end of 2016. They comprise Motaain, Motamasin, Oepoli and Wini in East Nusa Tenggara, Aruk, Nanga Badau and Entikong in West Kalimantan and Skow and Waris in Papua. (ebf)