Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen.

Halo olketa.  Good evening.

It’s a great pleasure to be here in Port Vila.

Thank you to the Honorable Prime Minister, your Council of Ministers and officials for your government’s warm welcome.

 

MoU

Vanuatu is a valued member of the Pacific Community family.

I’m delighted that today SPC and the Government of Vanuatu have sealed a Memorandum of Understanding confirming our collaboration over the next five years, focused on achieving sustainable development outcomes.

Certainly our cooperation is not new, given that SPC has been active for almost 70 years, we’re now the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific.

This MoU sets out how we will build on our long history, and direct our specialised expertise to support the government’s development aspirations, in priority areas – including the productive sectors, such as coastal fisheries, agriculture, forestry and technical support for the collection, sharing and use of national statistics.

This will involve furthering our support for government ministries as well as reinforcing our collaboration with our development partners – among them GIZ, the European Union, USAID and the governments of Australia and New Zealand.

I’d like to acknowledge the presence of our development partners.  We’re deeply grateful for your support, through which we’re able to achieve sustainable development results that make a real difference to the lives of Pacific people, here and throughout our region.

 

MSG collaboration

The MoU’s focus is not just on achieving priorities outlined in the National Priority Agenda and by the Port Vila-based Melanesian Spearhead Group, but also involves reviewing the relevance of existing programmes.

We’re delighted to assist Vanuatu through capacity building and technical expertise and this agreement is similar to the one we signed with the MSG.

I am pleased to announce that as part of SPC’s strategic alliance with MSG, we are strengthening our presence in Vanuatu by relocating a member of our Senior Leadership Team, Mia Rimon, to be based here.

This signals SPC’s strong commitment to improving development outcomes in this region in conjunction with other regional agencies.

 

KfW launch

It’s almost one year since Tropical Cyclone Pam swept through Vanuatu, leaving behind a heart-breaking legacy – the loss of life, livelihoods, homes and infrastructure.

Cyclone Pam brought to the forefront the high risk of Pacific Island countries and territories to a range of natural hazards. Sadly we’re witnessing this again with the destruction left by Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji.

Over recent years, Vanuatu and other Pacific Island states have undertaken various activities – from institutional strengthening and technical training through to community level awareness and the development of preparedness plans – in an effort to reduce this high level of vulnerability.

In the case of Cyclone Pam, we saw how the governments of the Pacific nations impacted took ownership in responding, with multiple partners rallying to assist.

Let me take this opportunity to acknowledge the leadership shown by Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office in the face of extreme challenges.

In responding to government requests, SPC contributed technical support here during the immediate response to Cyclone Pam, providing surge capacity to national agencies in the areas of post disaster needs assessment, food security, health surveillance and data for decision making, such as satellite imagery.

As we look ahead, I’m delighted this evening to join with our German partners to formally announce the allocation of six million Euros dedicated to supporting mid and long-term recovery efforts from Cyclone Pam.

This generous grant has been provided to SPC by the German Government-owned development bank, KfW, and will cover on-ground activities in Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The lion’s share of this welcome support from KfW will go to projects here in Vanuatu.

I’d like to thank a good friend of SPC, Mr Wulf Killman of GIZ, for his intervention that has helped make this grant a reality.

It’s a comprehensive package of support, developed in concert with the governments and informed by post-disaster needs assessments and current development priorities.

In Vanuatu, SPC’s wide-ranging actions will include activities like:

  • Maritime and Aids to Navigation;
  • Support to the Department of Geology, Mines and Water Resources as they coordinate the recovery efforts of multiple partners and continue to restore safe drinking water systems across affected communities;
  • Strengthening Emergency Communications;
  • Support for health services
  • Multi-hazard mapping to inform improved resilience of coastal communities
  • Food Supply for Food Security, by helping with improving fisheries and replanting crops – an aspect I was able to view first-hand yesterday when I visited Siviri Village and Mangaliliu, meeting prawn and tilapia farmers.

Minister, we look forward to our closer, ongoing engagement with Vanuatu with a great deal of optimism.

Our collaboration is based on a genuine spirit of partnership, where both parties agree to complement each other’s efforts and embrace the contributions of other partners to enrich development outcomes.

Together, we’re placing an emphasis on long-term recovery, on service delivery, on developing new policies consistent and on preparing Vanuatu for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

I’m confident that through our integrated, multi-sector approach to development programming, and by drawing upon skills and capabilities from around the region and internationally, SPC will make a lasting contribution to addressing Vanuatu’s development priorities for the benefit of generations to come.

Tank Yu Tu Mas (tankiu tumas).  Thank you.