The 48th Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting opened in Apia last evening with a traditional Ava ceremony at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum.
The President of the Federated States of Micronesia Peter Christian passed on the baton to coming chair, Samoa Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi.
Tuila’epa called on the leaders and member countries to stand together and implement decisions the leaders endorse at this year’s summit.
He also called for support of Fiji’s co-presidency of the COP 23, the annual round of the ongoing UN climate negotiations later this year in Germany.
Tuila’epa gave an example of what can be achieved when member nations are united.
In 2015, we were instrumental in concluding one of the toughest ever global negotiations on the Paris agreement, collectively, we as Pacific leaders successfully persuaded the whole World to see climate change through the lens of small island communities most vulnerable to climate change impact,” he said.
Tuila’epa also paid tribute to the Pacific’s giant warrior of climate change Tony de Brum, who passed away last month.
The Forum chair then highlighted a number of important issues the leaders will discuss in the next three days of the summit.
This includes Climate change, fisheries, the Pacific Pacer Plus trade agreement and the financing of the Forum Secretariat head office in Suva.
The first item of the agenda of the annual summit, which starts today is the meeting with representatives of civil society organisations in the Pacific.
It’s the first time ever at an annual meeting that civil society groups will present to leaders issues of major concerns.
Tuila’epa also has thanked the outgoing chair the President of Federated States of Micronesia Peter Christian for his contribution and commitment in the last 12 months of chairmanship of the Forum.