A new era for the Pacific’s transport sector was heralded after a regional meeting of officials from 18 countries and territories in Suva, Fiji last week.The event, coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), examined issues that influence access to safe, secure and efficient transport systems. At the end, officials had identified a number of broad outcomes that included improved national governance, affordability, worker mobility, marine pollution prevention and low-carbon solutions.
Tokelau’s Director for Transport, Mr Asofa Fereti was one of the officials who pushed for changes in the sector, taking into account the increasing importance transport will play in how the region can better navigate its developmental agenda, commitments and strategic approach towards a sustainable future.
The meeting also provided Tokelau with the occasion to formally announce its decision to join the Central Pacific Shipping Commission.
The decision, according to Mr Fereti, supports the framework for Pacific regionalism in the belief that deeper regionalism will:
- help increase socio-economic and development prospects,
- expand market opportunities,
- improve service delivery and
- contribute to security and good governance for Pacific people and for the region as a whole.
In the meeting proper, Mr Fereti sided with the majority of delegates who expressed the view that since transport cross-cuts all sectors, it will be a vital enabler for agriculture, health, education and trade. And that having a well-oiled Pacific transport sector will boost the region’s efforts and potential to achieve many of the 17 goals in the world’s Agenda2030 sustainable development framework.
Two of the key issues that emerged were maritime transport; and how to increase energy efficiency and reducing harmful emissions through a variety of means, such as fuel substitution with biofuel.
The SPC’s Chief of Staff, Patricia Sachs-Cornish said, “Maritime transport in particular provides a lifeline, connecting Pacific people, and there’s a shared interest and commitment to have safest and most efficient and affordable services in place, including for remote island communities.”
For Tokelau, the statement is very true.
“Maritime transport is a very important topic because Tokelau’s only means of transportation is by sea. And secondly, natural marine resources are generally considered our greatest assets,” Mr Fereti said.
He added that was one of the main reasons he joined other countries and territories in supporting the regional Framework for Action on Transport Services (FATS) and the Framework for Action on Energy Security in the Pacific (FAESP).
“Those two frameworks were formulated in response to calls from Pacific Forum Leaders for improved coordination and delivery of safe, secure and competitive regional transport and energy services whilst ensuring energy efficiency and preventing marine pollution,” he said.
He also mentioned that together with other Pacific countries and territories, Tokelau has played an important role in achieving gas emission reduction from electricity generation.
“The establishment of the Solar Voltaic Grid system on each of our three atolls to generate electricity is a major achievement for Tokelau because it has reduced the demand for diesel generators to supply electricity.”
Due to the success of the Solar Voltaic project, where emission reduction from electricity generation is ahead of reductions in other Pacific islands, Tokelau could seriously look at low-carbon transport, Mr Fereti said.
“The other positive development is that savings through the solar project have enabled us to redirect resources to other sectors such as education and climate adaptation projects like sea walls in our villages where sea level rise is a major challenge.”
The outcomes from the Fiji meeting – improved national governance, affordability, worker mobility, marine pollution prevention and low-carbon solutions – are important beacons that over the next 12 months will provide intel and input to the agenda of the Pacific Regional Transport Ministers’ meeting scheduled for 2017.
For further information contact:
Mr Asofa Fereti, Director of Transport and Support Services
Office of the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau, Apia, Samoa
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +685 7774464