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Prime Minister of Tonga Honourable Hu’akavameiliku
Vice President Honourable Paino Vanai, Wallis and Futuna
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Transport of the Cook Islands Honourable Robert Tapaitau
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure Development of Solomon Islands Honourable Manasseh Maelanga
Minister of Climate Change, adaptation, meteorology, geo-hazards, energy, environment and disaster management for Vanuatu, Honourable Ralph Regenvanu
Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities for Vanuatu, Honourable Marcellino Barthelemy
Ladies and gentlemen
It is apt we are standing here, together, on the newly arrived Vanuatu II Ferry as part of the 5th Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministerial Meeting.
It is a great honour to be here as your scientific and technical agency – the Pacific Community, member lead and member-owned.
For millennia, our people have been masters of the ocean. We have sailed across thousands of miles of open water, using only the stars, the winds, and our knowledge of the sea.
Our ancestors used their skill and courage to explore and settle new lands, to trade with neighbouring islands, and to build strong and resilient communities.
Women in our communities were the first people to weave our sails which influenced the modern sails of today.
As the late Epeli Hau'ofa once said, " We are the sea, we are the ocean. Oceania is us."
This is a powerful reminder of the deep connection that we as Pacific Islanders have with OUR ocean.
We recognize the importance of the ocean, not just as a means of connecting us, but also as a source of food, culture, and identity.
Today, as we face the challenges of maritime transport, we must draw strength from our ocean heritage and our ancestors' voyaging traditions.
We must once again become innovators and masters, but this time utilise the latest green technological pathways to overcome the obstacles that stand in our way.
But we must do this by rationalising and ensuring that the critical priorities of safe and accessible transport are also addressed for the many outer island communities across our far-reaching 42 million square kilometres of ocean.
At SPC, we are committed to supporting our Member Countries in this Endeavor.
We recognize the importance of the maritime sector for the sustainable development of our region, and we provide technical assistance and capacity building to our Member Countries in the areas of maritime safety, policy, gender equity, training, and climate change mitigation.
But we cannot do this alone. We need the collective effort and partnership of all stakeholders, including our Member Countries and development partners.
We need to work together to unlock the collective potential of the Blue Pacific and to ensure that our maritime transport sector is safe, efficient, and sustainable for all users.
We believe that we aspire to once again take the lead in sustainable maritime transport.
We are committed to working with each of you to achieve these goals and to build a stronger and more resilient maritime transport sector in the Pacific.
Tankyu tumas, vinaka vaka levu and thank you.