On Tuesday, the Fiji government delivered its speech to the UN SIDS Plenary. Mr Pita Wise, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Planning and National Development and Statistics spoke eloquently, stating that the “sustainable development of small island developing states through genuine and durable partnerships is very much relevant, the most practical and necessary approach to achieve sustainable development”.

Fijian Ministry of National Planning, Permanent Secretary Mr. Pita Wise addresses the SIDS conference in Apia, Samoa

Fijian Ministry of National Planning, Permanent Secretary Mr. Pita Wise addresses the SIDS conference in Apia, Samoa

Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Secretary, Mr. Luke Daunivalu presents at a plenary session

Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Secretary, Mr. Luke Daunivalu presents at a plenary session

He challenged us in the Pacific to consider the mounting challenges we face, and to reconsider and revisit the concept of the “Pacific Way of Doing Things,” reminding us that the Pacific Way entailed a more holistic approach where Pacific island nations collaborate to achieve common goals.

He was direct and honest about the challenges we face in Fiji, including population growth, increasing urbanisation, unsustainable consumption and resource use patterns, inadequate infrastructure and increasing frequency of natural disasters due to climate change, which threatens economic and social progress. Throughout his speech he emphasized the theme of the conference, that path sustainable development must be done through genuine and durable partnerships that “involved dialogue and collaboration in sharing our island heritage, independence and the right to self-governance, as we strive to establish effective communities, strengthening social networks, and promote environmentally friendly sustainable economic development.”

WCS - Fiji Policy Advisor, Mr. Manoa Malani with members of the Fiji Delegation

WCS – Fiji Policy Advisor, Mr. Manoa Malani (third from left) with members of the Fiji Delegation

WCS - Fiji Deputy Director, Dr. Sangeeta Mangubhai (second from left) with other Fiji delegates at UN - SIDS in Apia, Samoa

WCS – Fiji Deputy Director, Dr. Sangeeta Mangubhai (second from left) with other Fiji delegates at UN – SIDS in Apia, Samoa

Some of the ways forward that the Permanent Secretary highlighted in his inspiring speech were:

1)     More effort must be directed at making the necessary adjustments to existing institutions so that they are robust and be responsive to demands. The current system with complex bureaucratic process must make the necessary changes to be relevant and flexible.

2)     Support the Pacific Island Development Forum, which encompasses the collective efforts of Governments, civil society organizations and the private sector in addressing issues of common interest, challenges, and mapping out solutions which are tailored to the needs of Pacific island countries.

3)     Engaging and working closely Melanesian Spearhead Group to deal with the unique vulnerabilities and common challenges that confront the Melanesian countries.

4)     An investment in non-communicable diseases, beyond strategies to effective implementation on the ground.

5)     Interventions and priority-setting should be country-driven as opposed to being donor-driven, and there must be a clear demarcation of priorities that need regional solutions against those that are country-specific to maximize the use of resources.

The Permanent Secretary reaffirmed Fiji’s commitment to sustainable development, demonstrated by the recent passing of the Green Growth Framework for Fiji, following six months of consultations at both national and sub-national levels. Fiji is the first to have a Green Growth Framework, which is something of great pride for us. He explained that “The impetus for green growth emanates from the recognition that we must ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources, reduce our vulnerability to environmental risks and promote socially inclusive development.”

He also highlighted that the Government was giving high priority to the protection of Fiji’s marine resources, and has revisited its commitment made at the second 2005 SIDS conference in Mauritius to protect 30% of its seas by 2020. Although some progress has been made with the support of Fiji Locally Managed Marine Network (FLMMA) and development partners, he highlighted there is still a lot more to be done and the Government remains committed to achieve the 30% target.

He ended his speech but reaffirming that the Fijii Government was “looking forward to the continuing understanding, commitment, support and genuine partnership from our development partners to achieve the future that we want.”

Sangeeta Mangubhai