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Remarks by the Hon Marc ATI Vanuatu Minister of Foreign Affairs
at the 12th Conference of the Pacific Community
Fellow Ministers and Officials of the Pacific Community,
Vanuatu is pleased to be hosting the thematic session of the 12th Conference of the Pacific Community in 2022 in the beautiful capital city of Port Vila. As you are aware, we have proposed July 2022 as the tentative date for this face-to-face meeting to coincide with our independence celebrations, and we are looking forward to welcoming you to our vibrant country.
As Chair of Conference, Vanuatu has proposed a theme in the context of the new Pacific Community Strategic Plan 2021+ that was most relevant and essential for our entire membership.
‘BLUE PROSPERITY AND PACIFIC WELL-BEING’
The proposed theme highlights the Blue Pacific Continent’s ambition for prosperity, but also anchors the measures of prosperity firmly in the Pacific’s own interpretation of progress and ‘Well-Being,’ rather than traditional economic growth indicators like GDP. We want a ‘People-Centred Approach’ to sustainable development that takes into account the unique context of the Blue Pacific Continent.
‘Blue prosperity’ can be interpreted more broadly than just ocean issues as we have seen in the development of the Blue Pacific 2050 Strategy, the Blue Pacific Food Systems Dialogues, the UN Decade on Ocean Science and the climate and ocean nexus discussions during the recently concluded COP26 negotiations. This theme allows for an inclusive and holistic consideration of land, sea, air, people and ecosystems in the Pacific Context.
We hope to draw attention to the centrality of our blue resources and ocean initiatives that are underway around the region. For example, Vanuatu is the first country in the Pacific to form a dedicated Ocean Ministry to consolidate our efforts towards integrated ocean management.
As the overarching governing body for SPC, Vanuatu would like the Conference to think of longer-term visioning around prosperity. While there is a strong focus on immediate COVID-19 recovery efforts for all of us, there remains a need for longer-term sustainable strategic efforts to build back better and become more resilient to climate change and changing global models of development and sustainability. We must be united as a region to ensure that we work together to combat climate change and that we have a shared vision of the future that we want.
Vanuatu will take the opportunity of Conference 12 to highlight our leadership in setting Well-Being of our people amongst the highest order of success and prosperity measures. We encourage a strong reflection of this in the new Pacific Community Strategic Plan’s approach, results framework, monitoring and reporting.
Vanuatu 2030: The People’s Plan, more commonly referred to as the 2016-2030 National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP), demonstrates our national interests to balance development priorities and to keep development centred in our cultural values. The NSDP incorporates Melanesian Well-Being indicators into our measures of success and progress—indicators of access to indigenous lands and natural resources; indicators of traditional knowledge to be productive with accessible resources; and indicators of community vitality. This is a first for the Pacific region, where indicators of well-being are either absent or reported by non-government organizations.
Vanuatu topped the Happy Planet Index for the third time since 2006, ranking second out of over 150 countries for its ecological efficiency in delivering long and happy lives. We would like to see the entire Pacific Community consider using Well-Being indicators that recognize the vital link to our cultures; our land; and our traditional leadership; knowledge; and our people’s Well-Being. These are intertwined in the Pacific, and we need to define a way to measure and monitor our ties to our unique yet diverse Pacific heritages.
During the thematic session of Conference 12 in 2022, we hope to reflect on the progress of implementing SPC’s Strategic Plan in its initial phase to ensure that as SPC supports the region over the next ten-year period, SPC can demonstrate the embedding of a People-Centred Approach that is then clearly articulated in the results and in the reporting of lessons learned. It is encouraging to see the strategic plan has been informed by members NSDPs. We encourage SPC to continue learning from all of our members as to what success should aspire to be in a Pacific context through the Well-Being aspirations and indicators we will propose.
We are also excited to note that 2022 will mark the 75th Anniversary of SPC. Three quarters of a century is an incredible testament to the strength of Pacific partnerships and of our shared regional commitment to the power of multilateralism. We have faced many challenges, lessons and experiences along this journey, but have survived and remained strong because we have stayed united. It is this strength and determination that gives us confidence in a sustainable and resilient future, both for SPC and for all the people of the Pacific.
Vanuatu warmly opens our hearts and home to you, and we will see you in 2022!