Tokelau's Statement delivered by the Ulu o Tokelau to the 47th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting: September 9th in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

Honorable Chair and Distinguished Leaders
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for the opportunity to address distinguished leaders of our Forum family. I also as with previous speakers commend the FSM government for hosting us this week.Almost 15 years ago in this very Room, Tokelau was accepted being the first and only territory as a member of the Forum Fisheries Agency – FFA. I’m sure there will be more history made in this very room during this 47th Pacific Islands Forum.

The theme “Small and Far: Challenges for growth” is an accurate reflection of the realities that we Pacific Islands continuously face as we strive to enhance the quality of life of our communities. However, despite our smallness and isolation, the possibilities and opportunities that await us are abundant.While our islands are small in size and are far from the rest of the world, our people thrive against the backdrop of rich culture and traditions, green forests and abundant oceans.
Leaders of territories sticking together: Te Ulu o Tokelau, Afega Gaualofa (right) sitting next to the president of French Polynesia, Edouard Fritch (centre), and the president of New Caledonia, Philippe Germain (left).
Photo: French Polynesia Presidency/RadioNZ.
The theme also resonates the importance of taking appropriate actions today to ensure that future generations can enjoy the abundance of our lands and oceans. More than ever before,there is an urgency for bold leadership and strategic partnerships that will support a regional approach to addressing issues of mutual concern. Equally important is the need for better synergies amongst the various organisations serving our islands and having their roles clearly articulated.This will ensure cost effective coordination with an emphasis on delivering results that matter to our people.

Distinguish leaders; let me get your attention! A key factor to growth for us as a region is ensuring an all-inclusive integrated approach to both addressing the challenges that we face and seizing the opportunities that exist in our backyard. There is an urgent need to rationalize our processes for developing regional and sub-regional frameworks and aligning these to national priorities.I call on us to take an integrated approach to our oceans and vulnerabilities to climate change. Despite our political and membership statuses, it is crucial that we work together and we the smaller island countries welcome all the support we can receive. In light of this and in the spirit of regionalism and working together, Tokelau respectfully expresses its support for French Polynesia’s application for full membership to the Forum.

Tokelau remains committed to the priorities of this organisation to foster regional growth but again reiterates the importance of aligning these priorities to national frameworks and taking an integrated approach to implementation. We offer support for regional strategies that have been put forth for discussion at this years’ meeting such as the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific, the Smaller Island States strategy and the Report of the Sub Committee on Regionalism. Timely implementation of these various initiatives and having in place robust systems that will track tangible results will help determine the real impacts of our decisions as leaders.

Yes we are small and far; but we as a nation, we as a people, and we as a region are great and I urge us all to take advantage of the opportunities and possibilities that will foster sustainable growth for building our resilience and enhancing our livelihoods in accordance to the Pacific Regionalism Framework.

Thank you once again Mr. Chair for the opportunity to address the Forum Leaders. I wish us all successful deliberations. Fakafetai and Thank you!