noumea simi
September 13, 2021

Representatives of SPREP member countries

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

The Director General of SPREP

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I extend to you a warm welcome from Samoa to your 30th SPREP Meeting. Under present circumstances, and following the complement of many regional and global meetings held in the last 18 or so months, our meeting this week is being convened virtually. This, however, should not detract us from ensuring that our discussions and decisions on the protection and management of the natural resources of our Blue Pacific continent continue to hold relevance and import for us all. Our commitment in ensuring the priorities and work of SPREP, as well as all our regional organisations, remains critical to the needs of our Pacific region and peoples.

SPREP, like our respective countries and CROP agencies, have had to adapt accordingly to absorb changes and challenges brought about by COVID-19, climate change and others without compromising its support and service delivery to our Member countries.

Samoa commends the work undertaken by the Director General and SPREP for their timely responses and assistance to our Pacific countries to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and likewise our respective country efforts with the generous support of our development partners.

The reaffirmation by our leaders at the 51st PIF that climate change is the single greatest threat facing the Blue Pacific, has meant recommitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement and a call for bold, decisive and transformative action to address the challenges of climate change under the Kainaki II Declaration. We cannot allow COVID-19 to disrupt ambitious climate action, and our meeting this week should continue to address the commitments we made as a region in this important climate change declaration.

The recent IPCC report from the world’s top scientists restates the message loud and clear. Climate Change is affecting everyone around the globe.

The upcoming Glasgow COP26 is another important milestone event for us to demonstrate this unity for ambitious climate action; albeit, we face real challenges in being able to attend.

Forum Leaders at their meeting also endorsed the Declaration on Preserving maritime Zones in the Face of Change-Related Sea-Level Rise. As the Pacific, we continue to take leadership on climate change, oceans and many environmental issues. We must remain committed to better environmental management overall and deal with the many outstanding issues that continue to degrade our environment.

As we celebrate the second anniversary of the Pacific Climate Change Centre we must remind ourselves that the Centre embodies a common aspiration of our Leaders and governments – it is a strategic opportunity to build  capacities through knowledge, training, networking and research to ensure Pacific-tailored solutions to address our own adaptation needs and mitigation priorities.

The full agenda for the SPREP Meeting this week continues to reflect the complex interrelationship of our regional initiatives, albeit recognising that environmental considerations remain vital to the achievement of both regionalism and resilient development of our countries, as well as ensure the continued safety and well-being of our people. It is important to contribute to and make the connections and interlinkages to the various ongoing regional dialogues.

This being the Director General’s last SPREP Meeting, as officials we acknowledge with deep appreciation and gratitude the work you have undertaken in the last six years. We all are extremely fortunate for the opportunity to work with and be guided by you to better support and encourage the development aspirations of our SPREP members. Thank you in particular for your support and ready assistance to Samoa on the many issues of significant importance to us and to the region. We wish you all the very best in future endeavours.

I wish you all successful and fruitful deliberations this week. I now declare the Officials meeting officially open.