Representatives of SPC’s 26 member states and territories gathered in Noumea, New Caledonia, this week for the 48th Meeting of the Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA). The Pacific Community (SPC) governance meeting provides members with the opportunity to review and discuss the organisations strategic direction, celebrate member achievements, highlight new initiatives and identify potential challenges.
Protecting and promoting Pacific culture was identified as a fundamental and ongoing role for SPC. Pacific culture embodies specialised local knowledge and traditions, which can prove invaluable in developing effective climate change adaptation and resilience programmes in the region. New language reinforcing the importance of culture was added to SPC’s priority thematic area on human rights, gender equality and youth.
Non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, cancer and obesity, have been recognised as a serious barrier to Pacific development. Affirming this as a priority will help dedicate appropriate resources in support of SPC members’ efforts to tackle this pressing regional health challenge.
The Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, highlighted the significance of the decisions, saying, ‘NCDs represent one of the clearest threats to reaching our development objectives for the region, while the cultural heritage of the Pacific is an invaluable treasure, bound up with SPC’s history, and is key to our region’s future. By including these issues as organisational priorities, we will ensure that SPC’s work fully reflects the priorities of our members.’
CRGA 48 was chaired by Niue’s Peleni Talagi, with Palau’s Jeffrey Antol serving as Vice-Chair. Officials from across the SPC membership were in attendance, along with representatives from SPC’s partners and donors, as well as observers, including:
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the European Union (EU), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), the International Organisation of la Francophonie (OIF), Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), South Pacific Tourism Office (SPTO), and University of the South Pacific (USP).
The Director-General opened the two-day meeting, with an overview of the organisation’s achievements during the last year. Sessions then took place on SPC’s innovative partnerships, the Pacific Youth Development Framework, and the Pacific Board for Educational Quality (PBEQ). Members received SPC’s Results Report 2017 and its four-page companion, the Results Highlights, which are now available on SPC’s website.
Focused discussions took place on SPC’s efforts to further strengthen its country programming activities, and to keep SPC’s member-led identity firmly in place. The organisation is committed to working closely with members to ensure that its work is guided by the specific needs and challenges of each member state. Detailed sessions took place on SPC’s progress in meeting the objectives of the organisation’s Strategic Plan, and on its communication plans, internal operations, administrative structures and financial health.
Participants also had an opportunity to learn more about some of SPC’s divisional work programme in focused sessions. Highlights included SPC’s recently amalgamated Geoscience, Energy and Maritime (GEM) Division demonstrating cutting-edge technology in the use of drones, and sharing stark facts about the impacts of climate change on coastal areas. The Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) discussed human rights challenges in the region, while the Statistic for Development Division (SDD) showed how quality census data is being used to save lives.
CRGA chair Peleni Talagi expressed her thanks to members for their active participation and their continued dedication to the successful work of the Pacific Community.
The official CRGA 48 decisions will be made available on the SPC website and the CRGA 48 website in English and French – SPC’s official languages. Next year’s 11th Conference will be chaired by the Cook Islands, and will be held consecutively with CRGA 49, with the location and date to be confirmed later in 2018.
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