14 September 2015
Tokelau took to the podium earlier today to deliver its formal address to Pacific Forum Leaders at their 46th meeting in Papua New Guinea.
Leader, Ulu-o-Tokelau, Siopili Perez stated that over the past 10 years, his small country has observed much and grown its international profile and status.
“In 2005 Tokelau attended the Pacific Islands Forum as an Observer for the first time here in Port Moresby,” he said.
“Ten years later today we are attending as an Associate Member for the first time again here in Port Moresby. I take this opportunity to thank all leaders of the Forum for nurturing and the support provided towards our transition as an Observer for 10 years to be an Associate Member.”
Leaders were aware that Tokelau’s increasing international prominence is starting to come with clout. This is evidenced by its recent election as Chair for the Polynesian Leaders Group; and one of its employees had just been appointed to lead the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) established by Fiji three years ago.
This growing maturity was present in Mr Perez’s address as he confidently articulated Tokelau’s position on a number of pertinent issues to the Pacific region.
“Our region has come a long way in the last 10 years we have observed. The theme Strengthening Connections to Enhance Pacific Regionalism could not have come at a more appropriate time as we commence the implementation of the Framework of Pacific Regionalism,” he stated.
On the sensitive issue of climate change, Mr Perez strongly urged leaders to agree to a “Climate Change Declaration that advocates the deep concerns of this region and one that we will all be united in our solidarity.”
He added, “I look forward to an initiative that decisively brings climate change and the sustainable development goals into a one framework for our region.”
He also made special mention of the work by the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in progressing the fisheries strategy over the last few years.
However, he warned that strategies are not enough, that the “challenge is to build national structures and strategic platforms that bring regional progress into an improved quality of life for our people and our communities in a real and tangible way. Without this improvement of quality of life for our communities, regional progress in fisheries is meaningless.”
As last year’s Chair for the Forum Fisheries Committee he encouraged leaders to support the work of FFA in endorsing the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries.
In concluding his remarks as a new Associate member of the Forum, Mr Perez endorsed French Polynesia's application to become a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum.
“Our view is that the acceptance of the territory of Tahiti or French Polynesia as a full member following their request to truly join the Pacific Family is in line with values and principles of regionalism and demonstrates the value of inclusiveness and solidarity.
“For this reason I would like to respectfully register before leaders our support towards their application.”
He also congratulated host Papua New Guinea on its upcoming 40th anniversary of independence saying, “I would also like to congratulate you and your people on the anniversary of your nationhood. That is a most precious gift that only the people of Papua New Guinea could give herself.”