Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama will be joined by the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum at the virtual meeting based on the theme, “Security and Prosperity in Unity: 50 Years of the Pacific Islands Forum.”
The meeting recognises the remarkable 50 years of achievements of the Forum while providing an opportunity for the Pacific Leaders to engage in discussions on shared interests and priorities of the Region.
At the meeting, the leaders will collectively pursue discussions on building back better through COVID-19 recovery strategies and addressing mutual concerns raised by Micronesian countries relating to the Forum.
In terms of climate action, a draft declaration on preserving maritime zones amidst the sea-level rise related to climate change will also be considered by the Leaders. Matters emanating through the Foreign Ministers, including preparations for the upcoming 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to be held in Glasgow and new applications from international Forum Dialogue Partners, are also key highlights of the meeting.
Bainimarama as the Incoming Chair of the 51st Pacific Island Leaders Forum Meeting said “As we commemorate our 50 years of shared aspirations and history in the Pacific, we also find ourselves at a defining juncture in our history and we are faced with unprecedented political, economic and socio-economic challenges across the region. This first meeting is the beginning of a series of meetings that will see Forum Leaders convene over the next 5 – 6 months to continue to dialogue and work through the challenges before us and to advocate and progress our priorities as a collective."
The President of the United States of America, Joe Biden Jr, is also expected to address Forum Leaders at the 51st PIF meeting. This follows the invitation by Prime Minister Bainimarama for President Biden to join the Pacific leaders and see firsthand how Pacific island nations are coping on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
The formal programme today will also feature the handing over as current Forum Chair by Tuvalu Prime Minister, Kausea Natano, to Prime Minister Bainimarama as the chair of the 51st Islands Forum and related meetings.
The 51st Forum meetings will continue in the coming months with the Forum Chair leading virtual dialogues with civil society, the private sector, Forum dialogue partners and other regional organisations. A plenary will be held with associate members and Forum observers.
A Special Leaders Retreat is planned on the margins of COP 26, and an in-person Leaders Retreat is planned for Fiji in January 2022.
Meanwhile, Cook Islands Prime Minister Brown spoke with Fijian Prime Minister and incoming Forum Chair Frank Bainimarama ahead of Friday's virtual meeting of Pacific Islands Forum Leaders.
Yesterday afternoon's discussions with Bainimarama is the most recent in a series of discussions between Prime Minister Brown and colleague Leaders across the region in recent months as part of preparations for tomorrow's annual meeting of Forum Leaders.
Prime Minister Brown, who is the current Chair of the Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG) also spoke with Nauru President and current Chair of the Micronesia President's Summit (MPS) Lionel Aingimea yesterday.
Photo file Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama