Twenty-three Pacific Island countries and more than ten foreign countries will be participating at the inaugural Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) at the Sheraton Fiji Resort in Denarau from 5-7 August, 2013. The call for a PIDF was endorsed by Pacific Island leaders at the 2012 ‘Engaging With the Pacific’ meeting held in Nadi in August last year. Speaking at a media briefing for the PIDF this morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy secretary, Penijamini Lomaloma said PIDF is a unique platform bringing together leaders from the public and private sectors and civil society to address regional development challenges, through mutually beneficial innovative partnerships.
“This is the first time we are giving the people of the Pacific a platform to come and express the things that are important to them and participate in the decision making process. This is giving them the ability and the chance to participate at the strategic level of decision making,” Mr Lomaloma said. Mr Lomaloma said projects would also be discussed at the meeting to assist people at the grassroots level.
“The commitments are well and good but it’s the action on the ground that is important to us. The meeting will also come up with projects that will directly benefit you and me. Right now, there are a number of projects that hopefully will be announced during the PIDF. That is through partnerships. Major public announcement is also expected on renewable energy. These are projects that would assist people at the community level.”
He stressed that the meeting would ensure that decisions made are translated into concrete actions. “The world came together in the meeting in Rio last year and we reviewed where we were in terms of sustainable development. One thing that came out of that meeting is the agreement that the current way of doing things is not working and there is a heavy emphasis on economic growth. Economic growth, while it’s good, the result is what we have today. It is an uneven sided triangle where we just focus on getting economic development at the expanse of the environment and our citizens. The result of that is an increase in poverty, climate change has increased and the financial crisis of a few years ago is all linked to the way we do business. During the Rio meeting, we woke up to the fact that we ought to change direction,” Mr Lomaloma highlighted.
The theme for the PIDF 2013 inaugural Summit is “Leadership, innovation and partnership for Green/Blue Pacific economies.”
Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) chief executive officer, Ms Mereia Volavola welcomed the chance given to players in the private sector to discuss issues of sustainable development with the public sector and the civil society.
“Added to this forum are the regional and international agencies that provide technical expertise and advice. The inclusion of private sector and CSO and other regional organisations really puts into practice the inclusiveness and the collaboration that had been mentioned in many forums but sadly never followed through. This forum is paving a way of connecting the policy makers and the implementers,” Ms Volavola added.