Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
10 July, 2015
The Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting was held on 10 July 2015 in Sydney, Australia and was attended by Heads of State and Governments of Cook Islands, Nauru and Niue, the Vice-President of Palau and Deputy Prime Ministers of Samoa and Tonga, and Foreign Ministers of Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, and the Minister of Public Works of the Republic of Marshall Islands. The meeting was chaired by the Vice-President of Palau.
The President of New Caledonia and the Ulu o Tokelau attended as Associate Members. The Heads of Organisations of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme also attended the meeting.
Leaders expressed their deep gratitude to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Honourable Julie Bishop MP and the Government of Australia for hosting the Meeting of the Forum Foreign Ministers and for the kind hospitality extended to them during their stay in Sydney.
Foreign Ministers discussed opportunities to strengthen national leadership to manage natural hazards though supportive regional responses, and also discussed the Pacific Islands Forum’s international engagement with Post-Forum Dialogue partners in preparation for this year’s 46th Pacific Islands Forum in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, from 7 - 11 September, 2015.
Ministers reaffirmed the need to continue and enhance collaboration on disaster management arrangements including telecommunications, transportation and early warning systems as well as expand measures that would promote faster and better coordinated responses to events in the region. This included agreement to:
- improve or introduce pre-positioned emergency supplies in the Pacific, to enable immediate dispatch to affected communities;
- increase investment in multi-hazard early warning systems, including for tsunamis early warnings in countries where such systems are not already in place;
- commit to strengthen legal and policy frameworks to better manage disaster response and recovery, in line with members’ commitments under the Sendai Framework;
- strengthen intra-regional capacity to support national response effort, including sharing of information between national emergency response agencies and CROP agencies about existing disaster management personnel and resources and operating procedures;
- explore the development of a Pacific-focused disaster management leadership training programme; and
- greater exchange of information between countries on the potential role of their police and military, and service personnel to support deployment and distribution of supplies.
Ministers noted the work done to develop the draft Strategy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Development in the Pacific to improve resilience and called on international partners, regional organisations, private sector communities and NGOs to support and strengthen national and regional efforts in planning for risk reduction and disaster management.
Ministers also noted the importance of lessons from the response, recovery and reconstruction efforts in the Pacific region, and agreed that these should be included in future Forum Compact reviews.
Ministers committed to the development of a Pacific Resilience Partnership to bring together all key actors to build cooperation, improve collaboration and harmonise systems that would support nationally-led resilience building and strengthening. Ministers reaffirmed the importance of building on the pool of Pacific-based experts in the region to assist with: nationally-led planning and response efforts; damage and loss assessments; procurement; and, support and advice on donor coordination and funds management.
Ministers discussed funding challenges and called on development partners to provide flexible, accessible funding through government-led processes and, where appropriate, through CROP agencies, for preparedness, response, and recovery, and long-term risk reduction and prevention. Ministers acknowledged current efforts by CROP agencies to support access to climate change finance and tasked them to develop a strategic, practical approach for countries to effectively access funds for climate change and disaster risk management. They agreed to assess ways to increase collaboration with the private sector, and where necessary strengthen their capacity to enable effective engagement in and participate throughout the risk management cycle, including supporting rapid recovery process of markets, quickly re-establishing telecommunications and assisting in the provision of food and logistics.
Ministers encouraged the need to take responsibility and embrace a proactive approach to addressing immediate financing needs following a disaster through measures including domestic resource mobilisation such as contingency funds, and risk financing and insurance options such as the Pacific Disaster Risk Financing Initiative.
Ministers noted the World Humanitarian Summit’s regional consultations for the Pacific held in Auckland, New Zealand from 30 June - 2 July 2015.
Ministers reaffirmed the need for a strengthened and focussed high-level political dialogue and enhanced international engagement through a robust Post Forum Dialogue, commencing in September 2015, based on the region’s priority interests.
Ministers agreed to an enhanced role of Forum Foreign Ministers in deepening regionalism through strengthened policy cohesion on agreed regional political priorities and policy positions relating to international issues and events. They agreed to recommend to Leaders that Forum Foreign Ministers meet annually from 2016, after the Forum Officials Committee meeting, to assist and inform Leaders of relevant regional and international issues facing the region.
Ministers commended to Leaders opportunities presented by various international high level meetings to engage and advocate agreed Forum views. Ministers recommended to Leaders that they take the opportunity of the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly to meet as a group with leaders or political representatives of selected key partners.
Ministers noted progress made with regard to the Secretariat’s work in strengthening regional coordination and enhancing regional policy cohesion through the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific and Ministerial meeting mechanisms, a draft report for which will be tabled for the consideration of the Forum Officials Committee pre-Forum meeting in August 2015.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
10 July 2015