Officials from across the Pacific are busy preparing for the upcoming meeting of the Committee of the Representatives of Governments and Administrations or CRGA. This meeting has taken on special significance both as the 50th time it has taken place, but also as a sign of Pacific strength and of the determination regional leaders to continue the important work of SPC through even the most challenging times.
The first CRGA meeting was held in 1984. The Pacific Community (SPC) had just undertaken a landmark decision to amend its founding document, The Canberra Agreement, and provide full and equal membership opportunities to all Pacific nations and territories, including those in free association status. For the first time SPC had 27 active members and a pressing need to establish a central coordination body that could regularly discuss progress on the region’s development agenda. SPC’s Planning and Evaluation Committee and Committee of Representatives of Participating Governments were therefore dissolved and reformed into what is now the CRGA.
The change was more than just an administrative restructure, it sent a clear message throughout the region and around the world that SPC was going to be an organization owned, driven and managed by its Pacific members. Each of them would have equal access to the opportunities offered by this unique organization, in a true spirit Pacific collaboration.
In the years since then, the CRGA has been at the forefront of SPC work calendar, providing a platform to share progress, discuss new ideas, respond to common challenges, and serve as a true Pacific meeting house. Over this time the region has faced many challenges, but the CRGA meetings have remained a priority, helping to steer the work of the region towards its Blue Pacific vision.
Recent CRGA sessions have seen great progress made on the Pacific Framework for Regionalism, the establishment of long-term sustainable financing strategy, the revision and restructure of SPC‘s Divisions, the adoption of Non-Communicable Diseases as a new priority issue, and a call to action in support of the upcoming Decade of Ocean Science, through the Pacific Community Centre for Ocean Science projects; as well as providing a ground-breaking regional open data catalyst, the Pacific Data Hub.
This year the Pacific, like the rest of the world, is dealing with the fall out of COVID 19. Across the region, meetings events and conferences are being postponed or cancelled, as travel restrictions and other health and safety measures are put in place. A pivot towards COVID response and COVID adaption has forced international, regional and local organizations to adjust their workplans and reprioritize their work. In this atmosphere the CRGA has taken on an even more central role for SPC.
The ‘Meeting House of the Pacific’ will hold its 50th session in a hybrid format, with small physical gatherings in Noumea and Suva connected to a larger virtual meeting space. But while the format may not be traditional, the CRGA will continue to service its role, giving SPC’s 26 members the space and the opportunity to review the regions development progress and help shape effective strategies to deal with current challenges, and be ready to make a full post-COVID recovery.
CRGA 50 will take place from 17-19 November 2020. More information about the meeting can be found on the SPC CRGA website at: spc.int/crga