Global Access Partners
Summit for the Pacific and Small Island Nations
18 June 2021
- We, the participants of the GAP Pacific and Small Island Nations Summit, convened online on 18 June 2021 to discuss a ‘blue recovery’ for the Pacific in the wake of COVID-19. We also considered the need for an environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework to underpin greater regional resilience, and worked towards a shared vision for the region’s future.
- We thank Catherine Fritz-Kalish and the organisers at Global Access Partners (GAP) for hosting the Summit, the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships (ICDP) for their financial contribution, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for their in-kind support. We also appreciate the technical assistance delivered by the team at EventFrog to ensure the event’s smooth proceedings.
- We congratulate the organisers for delivering a successful and highly engaging virtual forum, brining together 120 senior executives from government, business and academia from 13 countries: Aruba, Australia, Fiji, France, Kiribati, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Tonga and Vanuatu.
- We thank Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific, and the Hon Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, the Attorney-General of Fiji, for their forward-looking keynote speeches.
- We also thank the Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment in the Australian Government; Sara Fyson, Head of Public Governance Reviews at the OECD; and Peter Kenilorea Jr, member for East ‘Are’are in the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, for their thoughtful considerations of a ‘blue recovery’ for the Pacific region.
- We appreciate the valuable contributions of Varelie Croes, Chief Innovation Officer in the Government of Aruba; Peter Manettas, Founder of ShoreTrade; and Taholo Kami, Special Representative for Oceans of the Government of Fiji, and their insights into ESG issues.
- We were inspired by the arguments for unity and progress offered by Tuiloma Neroni Slade OS, 8th Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and His Excellency Anote Tong, 4th President of the Republic of Kiribati.
- We thank Dr Ian Watt AC, Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu and Prof Brian Schmidt AC for chairing the Summit’s three sessions and the many contributors from 13 nations who offered their opinions on the issues under debate. We also thank facilitators Michael Collins, Catherine Fritz-Kalish and Taholo Kami for moderating the discussion.
- We acknowledge the devastating impact of COVID-19 measures on the Pacific region and hope a broad vaccine roll-out will allow the swift and safe resumption of international tourism and trade. We accept the need for economic diversification and development throughout the region, and note the potential of niche agriculture, digital services and other alternative revenue streams.
- We agree that a successful ‘blue recovery’ will require policy coherence and cross-jurisdictional cooperation within domestic governments, productive partnerships with commercial companies and non-government organisations (NGOs), and improved international financial mechanism to encourage greater investment and support.
- We recognise the importance of a healthy Pacific environment to Pacific people and communities, and support measures to improve environmental sustainability, maintain fish stocks, reduce plastic and oil pollution, and protect coastal mangroves.
- We emphasise the importance of strong and ethical leadership, transparency and robust civic institutions to regional resilience, and urge international donors and financial bodies to pursue productive and respectful partnerships with regional nations and stakeholders.
- We accept the need to rebuild public trust in government institutions and urge regional governments to recognise and dismantle administrative silos, update the skills of civil servants, and embrace data technology to improve policy implementation.
- We advocate recovery packages which prioritise economic diversification, environmental protection, national resilience, and social equality. We stress that ambitious global commitments on climate change and Sustainable Development Goals must be turned into practical and inclusive regional outcomes.
- We believe that greater regional unity would amplify the voice of the Pacific in international forums, and implore global leaders to accelerate action on climate change, given its real and present danger to the very future of Small Island Nations.
- We look forward to working with GPA, ICDP and other stakeholders to pursue a range of projects raised by the Summit, including work with the OECD on building regional economic and governance capability to empower a ‘blue recovery’ in the Pacific, a digital fisheries platform, and regional biomarine research hubs.
- We hope to build on the knowledge shared and relationships begun and strengthened during the Summit, and look forward to contributing to a follow-up event in the future.
To view the GAP Summit Report, please click here.