1.1 This Partnership between the Government of Australia (GOA) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) establishes our shared vision to work in close cooperation to achieve improved development outcomes and sustainable improvements in the quality of life of all Pacific islanders. Specifically, this Partnership establishes mutual accountability for adding development value for Forum members through regional cooperation, collaboration and integration by 2018.
1.2 The PIFS Corporate Plan 2013-2018 and each Programme Strategic Plan 2013-2015 will guide PIFS interactions with GOA during the initial stages of this Partnership, pending any changes that are likely to be made following Forum consideration of the 2013 Pacific Plan review.
1.3 The GOA Guidance Note: Pacific Regional Organisations will guide GOA’s interactions with PIFS and all other Pacific regional organisations during this Partnership.
2.1 The following principles will underpin all aspects of the development relationship between GOA and PIFS.
- Mutual respect, including recognition of each other’s political constraints openness to working together and exploring new opportunities together, and resolving through open discussion any tensions and challenges that emerge.
- Mutual responsibility and accountability for results in terms of improved economic and governance development outcomes for the region as a whole and for individual Forum Island Countries (FIC), including through joint, regular and evidence-based review of progress against the commitments and objectives of this Partnership.
- Transparency about the partnership between GOA and PIFS, with all Forum members, and with other external stakeholders.
- Flexibility to adapt in response to emerging issues and changing context in the Pacific.
2.2 GOA acknowledges the responsibility of PIFS to account for its policies, programs and resource allocation to the Pacific Islands Forum through the Forum Officials Committee.
2.3 PIFS acknowledges the responsibility of GOA to account to its Parliament and people on its contributions to regional development in the Pacific, including those channelled through PIFS.
Recognising the emerging challenges facing the Pacific region for the next six years and beyond, this Partnership will support the PIFS as the premier political organisation, to help FICs realise their aspirations for effective regionalism.
3.2 Three year objectives:
Continual improvement in PIFS performance in support of its approved mandate, characterised by:
- Evidence of real progress toward achieving program outcomes in relation to economic integration, including operational trade policies, private sector development and trade facilitation and promotion.
Political Governance and Security
- Regional security strengthened and conflicts and threats to human security prevented, mitigated and managed in accordance with Forum values.
- Enhanced integrity of political systems and accountability and transparency of government institutions resulting from PIFS support.
- Human rights promoted and protected.
Strategic Partnerships and Coordination
- Partnerships and stakeholder relationships, coordination and reporting at all levels to help meet the development aspirations of Forum Island Countries at national, regional and international levels
- Forum Compact contributes to achieving the MDGs and Forum Island Countries engaged in development of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda
- The Pacific Plan contributes to achieving greater regional integration and cooperation
- PIFS ability to track progress and monitor effective regional policy responses in education, gender equality and disability is strengthened
- Advocate, promote and support the special needs of the region’s Smaller Island States
- Members, partners and Pacific communities understand PIFS role and function and can access PIFS information
PIFS organisational reform in support of effective regionalism, characterised by:
- Strengthened in-house PIFS capacity to perform policy advisory role.
- Improved PIFS capacity to advance the political and institutional aspects of regionalism.
- Strengthen ability to prioritise work programs to match regionalism objectives and a limited resource envelope
- Improved PIFS capacity to report on organisational performance
- Significant progress in reorienting PIFS structures and resources in support of Leaders’ decisions on regional integration.
- Transparent, inclusive and effective prioritisation of Leaders’ regional reform priorities.
Australia positioned as a strategic, value-adding PIFS partner, characterised by:
- An increasing proportion of Australian financing is providedthrough the PIFS core budget.
- Members’ familiarity with exactly how Australia invests in PIFS.
- Increasing capacity for reliance on PIFS performance reporting to assess Partnership progress and relevance.
4.1 GOA hereby confirms its commitment to:
- Provide PIFS with effective, efficient and predictable development assistance that supports PIFS achieve the Partnership objectives.
- Support PIFS to enhance its capacity, authority and legitimacy amongst Forum members in accordance with its mandate.
- Align GOA monitoring and assessment of PIFS performance as closely as possible with PIFS own performance targets, measures and assessment systems, and support PIFS to strengthen those systems as required to demonstrate results, especially in support of the Forum Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination.
4.2 PIFS hereby confirms its commitment to:
- Continuously improve its governance, corporate administration and performance assessment capability to achieve the Partnership objectives, in accordance with its Corporate Plan, approved recommendations of its 2012 independent review and Leaders directives on recommendations of the 2013 Pacific Plan review.
- Deliver high quality financial, technical and policy support consistent with its mandate and corporate reform objectives.
- Advance key policy or investment actions identified to implement Partnership priorities.
- Optimise its use of all resources to achieve improved development outcomes consistent with the regional priorities of FICs, with particular attention to the needs of Smaller Island States.
4.3 Both parties resolve to:
- Build on existing programs and lessons in shaping future Australian support.
- Advance regional integration, growth and development through implementation of the Pacific Plan, including its criteria for supporting development activity on a regional basis.
- Balance PIFS governance improvements with service delivery improvements.
- Ensure all joint activities support gender equality and inclusiveness.
- Promote harmonisation and coordinated action with all PIFS development partners.
- Meet regularly on an informal basis, share all relevant information, discuss any performance concerns as early as possible, and resolve any concerns through dialogue.
- Measure performance and progress of this Partnership using the Performance Assessment Framework at Schedule A, and outcomes of regular informal meetings and dialogue.
- Report transparently to Forum members on the progress of this Partnership, through the Pacific Islands Forum and the Forum Officials Committee.
- PARTNERSHIP PRIORITIES
GOA and PIFS will address the following priorities through this Partnership:
- Regional relevance – GOA will support PIFS to explore implications of the 2013 Pacific Plan review for both the region and for PIFS; strengthen its cooperation with other Pacific regional organisations; and transparently differentiate the services it provides in pursuit of regional or national development outcomes. Both parties will work together to improve collective understanding of the complex political economy and other factors that influence success of regional support, and how best to bring national and regional attention to address complex development challenges.
- Organisational capability – Rather than focusing narrowly on technical and managerial capacity as in the past, GOA will support PIFS to strengthen the full range of capabilities needed for the organisation to function effectively, based on decisions relating to the Pacific Plan review. GOA will assist PIFS internal governance by supporting the Audit and Risk Sub Committee, exploring with PIFS opportunities to strengthen governance, and supporting PIFS organisational improvement initiatives.
- Transparent performance assessment and reporting – GOA will provide continuing support for PIFS improvements in management information to include reporting of development outcomes. GOA will also support PIFS to identify realistic outcome indicators and a process for measuring and assessing them. GOA will further support PIFS efforts to improve the frequency and accessibility of its communication with stakeholders (especially national governments) on positive results it is achieving.
5.2 The parties intend that the scope of this Partnership will remain flexible over its life, able to incorporate a wider range of priority outcomes that may be developed incrementally over time. These may be included in the Partnership during formal Partnership dialogue discussions each year or at other times by mutual agreement.
- GOVERNANCE, MANAGEMENT AND REVIEW
6.1 High level Consultations (HLC) will take place six-monthly between senior officials of GOA and PIFS. One meeting each year will be hosted by PIFS in Suva (around October) in the lead up to Forum Officials Committee consideration of the PIFS annual work plan and budget, and one meeting each year will be hosted by Australia in Canberra (around April) enabling senior level discussion (including by whole of government partners) of strategic policy matters in advance of annual Forum meetings. These HLCs will:
- Focus on how both parties can utilise their convening power and technical expertise to address complex current and emerging development challenges in the region.
- Ensure joint, regular and evidence-based review of progress and challenges in meeting the priority outcomes specified in the Partnership, including in relation to PIFS efficiency and effectiveness and GOA engagement strategies.
- Identify and build on opportunities for sharing knowledge and technical expertise to the benefit of Pacific islands’ development, including through technical and staff exchanges and enabling PIFS to engage with other GOA regional programs (such as volunteers, the Pacific Leadership Program, the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative and the Government Partnerships for Development).
- Determine annual GOA funding levels and their categorisation (core funding, sector budget support, or project funding), for final endorsement by the Forum Officials Committee.
- Provide the opportunity to make any amendments to this Partnership including all schedules attached.
- Regularly review the performance and ongoing value of this Partnership.
6.2 The priority outcomes, targets and indicators in Schedule A provide the basis on which Partnership progress will be monitored by both parties, reviewed jointly, and amended accordingly at HLC meetings. As far as possible, these indicators align with existing indicators within PIFS and GOA. Performance review by both parties will also take account of the findings of progress reports and reviews undertaken during the Partnership (at activity, sector, corporate, country or regional levels), as well as relevant independent research or other studies.
6.3 Australia’s contribution to Partnership objectives and targets will also be assessed and reported periodically as required by the Australian aid program’s quality processes. Likewise, the alignment of Australian support for PIFS with GOA policy and sectoral priorities will be reviewed periodically. Such reviews will be undertaken in cooperation and consultation with PIFS.
6.4 All HLC decisions will be recorded and the meeting records circulated to all Forum members and made available on request to other interested stakeholders.
6.5 An independent mid-term review of the Partnership will be undertaken in 2015-16, based on jointly agreed terms of reference. This review will examine and report on PIFS and GOA activities, engagement approaches and performance in terms of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, monitoring and evaluation, sustainability and gender equality.
6.6 Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will have responsibility for the overall management of the Partnership Agreement on behalf of GOA. In consultation with DFAT and PIFS, other Australian Government agencies may enter into agreements with PIFS under this Partnership for the purposes of providing funds for specific international development assistance Programs.
6.7 GOA and PIFS will identify a single focal point for all communications between PIFS and Australian government stakeholders. This approach will not inhibit appropriate and ongoing collegial exchanges amongst staff and consultants employed by either party, or substitute for program management being undertaken at appropriate levels. It will add value to the relationship by enabling coherence and consistency. It will also provide an initial point of contact to resolve any tensions that emerge in the relationship.
6.8 GOA will establish an information sharing group for Australian government stakeholders engaging with PIFS, to discuss and reach consensus on GOA priorities and objectives in working with PIFS. Their discussions will inform the formal policy dialogue at HLC meetings and help bring to light evidence of development outcomes PIFS is achieving with Australian support.
- LEVELS AND FORMS OF DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE
7.1 Through this Partnership, GOA commits to provide PIFS with predictable, multi-year financing. Under the broader overarching goal, funding under this partnership will be programmed on a three-year basis. It will be affirmed on an annual basis by 1 September of each year, subject to positive partnership progress and successful appropriation of required funding in Australia’s national budget each year.
7.2 All financial contributions outside core budget funding made under this Partnership from GOA to PIFS (extra-budgetary support for project specific activities) will be through the use of a Grant Agreement in the form at Schedule B in accordance with the following:
- Core budget funding will be provided under a multi-year financing Grant Agreement of three calendar years (Core budget Grant Agreement). The Core budget Grant Agreement will be implemented in accordance with the terms and conditions of this Partnership and evaluated pursuant to the Performance Framework at Schedule A. The Agreement will be reviewed after two years to determine whether a new multi-year agreement should be negotiated in the third year of the agreement to commence on 1 September of that third year. The review will consider the performance of both GOA and PIFS against the Partnership performance framework;
- Extra budget funding will be provided for the term required to complete the program or such dates as may be determined by the parties. Prior to signing, GOA will establish that PIFS is available to undertake the task and reach agreement with PIFS on the terms of reference/scope of work and overall cost of the proposed program. The Grant Agreement issued will be implemented in accordance with the terms and conditions described in this Partnership, and where possible, evaluated pursuant to the Performance Framework at Schedule A.
7.3 GOA commits to allocate an increasing portion of its overall annual PIFS funding to the PIFS core budget to convert existing separate projects under the extra budget to core budget funding where they meet the following criteria:
- The service is in high demand from Forum members or represents a clear regional public good;
- There is a recognised ongoing need for assistance in the Pacific and it is unlikely to be met at the national level;
- The work is part of PIFS core work program (as agreed by the Forum and Forum Officials Committee);
- There is a high quality, costed strategy and work program in place for each major program area, with an associated M&E framework;
- It is consistent with GOA’s long term agenda in the Pacific; and/or
- PIFS is the most appropriate development partner to deliver the program.
7.4 GOA commits further to limit separate project funding under 7.2(2) to activities that:
- Have specific time-bound outputs and outcomes and where an ongoing work program is not planned;
- Address an emerging priority that may or may not become a core service of PIFS in the longer term; or
- Have uncertainty in relation to ongoing availability of funding.
7.5 GOA will provide PIFS with access to short-term specialist expertise and research capacity as needed, through a new GOA Pacific Regional Organisations Facility to be established in 2014.
7.6 GOA will support PIFS efforts to build a more sustainable financing structure, including any well-justified proposal for revision to recover the full indirect costs associated with program implementation. Such costs will need to be clearly identifiable and well budgeted.
7.7 PIFS undertakes to report on the use of these funds, in accordance with sound financial and administrative practice, and its agreed external performance reporting requirements.
7.8 The commitments above are aimed at reducing transaction costs and increasing opportunities for broader engagement and coherent planning and reporting for both parties. They are also intended to provide PIFS with the resources it needs for continuous and proactive improvement of its corporate systems, and to minimise confusion and duplication across Pacific regional organisations.
- COMMENCEMENT DATE AND TERM
8.1 This Partnership comes into effect on the date of its signature. The initial period of effect is six (6) years. Thereafter it will be renewed for subsequent periods of six (6) years unless either PIFS or GOA gives written notice, at least (6) months before the expiry of a period of effect, of its desire to terminate the Partnership.
8.2 Any changes to the Partnership Agreement will be effected by an Exchange of Letters between the Parties.
8.3 The responsibilities of PIFS and GOA for activities being carried out pursuant to Grant Agreements commenced prior to the receipt by the other Party of the termination notice referred to above will continue until completion of such activities as if this Partnership remained in effect in respect of and for the whole duration of such activities.
9.1 This Partnership brings together the comparative advantages of Australia as a key member and financing partner, and PIFS as the premier regional political organisation with acknowledged expertise in coordinating and advancing regional development in the Pacific. It changes the nature of the relationship between the two parties to a partnership that enables change and optimises the potential for effective regional development.
9.2 This Agreement is neither a treaty nor an instrument of treaty status. Consequently, differences which may arise concerning the interpretation or application of this Agreement will not be subject to adjudication or arbitration by any national or international court or tribunal but will instead be dealt with in an amicable way as the appropriate method of achieving the peaceful settlement of those differences. At the same time, the Government of Australia wants to confirm not only its clear intent to participate in the Activity but also its desire to implement the provisions of this Agreement in good faith.
Signed on ..................................... day of ...................................... 2014