Amid mounting pressure on the development sector in the Pacific Islands, the annual governing body meeting for the Pacific Community (SPC) has ended with agreement to refine aspects of the scientific and technical organisation’s operations.
“We now have the necessary building blocks that are needed to help us address our key financial and other challenges over the next two to three years,” the Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, said at the close of the 46th meeting of SPC’s Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA 46).
Government officials from 21 country and territory members of the Pacific Community and representatives of 10 development partners took part in the meeting from 28 to 30 June in Noumea, New Caledonia.
Among the key outcomes were approval for: plans to develop and implement a sustainable financing strategy for SPC over three budget cycles, including cost recovery and priority setting mechanisms; a study to explore the most appropriate operating current for SPC (currently SPC uses the Pacific franc); and for a review of the secretariat’s project management fee, to reflect actual costs.
The Pacific Community 2015 Results Report and the organisation’s Strategic Results Framework 2016–2020 were endorsed.
“As with many international development organisations, SPC is at a crossroads in an environment that requires a change in the way it operates and is financed, and it was essential for members to agree on what SPC’s priorities should be, including responses to requests for assistance when members suffer disasters,” Dr Tukuitonga said.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the SPC secretariat gave a joint update on engagement with the Framework for Pacific Regionalism by the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP).
The members were also briefed on the Smaller Island States (SIS) Strategy 2016–2020, which was adopted earlier this month by Pacific Islands Forum SIS leaders.
As this new strategy provides the basis for regional priority setting, SPC is to give special attention in its programme business plans to the five priorities for SIS: climate change; labour; health – in particular, implementation of the Pacific Non-communicable Disease (NCD) Roadmap; fisheries; and air and sea transport.
SPC is to report on the new strategy as a priority alongside gender and youth in its annual Results Reports from now on.
There was agreement that members and the SPC secretariat should engage in a Joint Steering Committee for the analysis of regional governance and finance, as requested by Forum Leaders last year.
The committee will comprise Chairs of the governing councils and committees of CROP agencies, and its inaugural meeting will be held from 20 to 21 July 2016, in Suva, Fiji.
SPC has also been tasked with contributing to data collection for the analysis, and subsequent regional dialogue, as part of a CROP Chief Executive Officer Reference Group.
Additionally the members approved the design and implementation of an SPC-specific performance development system, to be created in consultation with staff, and agreed that a joint report from SPC’s Staff Representative Committees should be included in senior management’s ongoing reporting to CRGA on significant staffing issues.
The members viewed the mainstreaming of youth into SPC’s broader portfolio and programme delivery as a matter of priority, and requested that a central agency, such as the Pacific Youth Council, monitor the impact of mainstreaming youth issues in the Pacific.
The members also urged the secretariat to fully integrate organic agriculture into relevant strategies, and agreed that options for sustainable financing of an organic agriculture programme in SPC will need to be considered.
As part of the SPC’s commitment to environmental sustainability, a voluntary carbon offset scheme was introduced for the first time at this CRGA, with the participants contributing a total of 55,000 CFP to the scheme.
A reforestation association in New Caledonia, Mocamana, will use the funds to plant some 10,500 trees to restore a native dry forest area in New Caledonia, thereby offsetting the participants’ travel for the meeting.
The meeting outcomes report and other documents for CRGA 46 are on the SPC website.
CRGA 47 and the 10th Pacific Community Conference in 2017 and CRGA 47 will be held in Noumea, New Caledonia, during SPC’s 70th anniversary year, with the provisional dates of 24 to 28 July.
About CRGA 46:
The meeting was chaired by New Caledonia, with New Zealand as Vice-Chair, and was attended by representatives of the following Pacific Community members – Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America and Vanuatu.
The observer organisations represented were the European Union, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), National Youth Development Authority, Melanesian Spearhead Group, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, PIFS, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), UNICEF Pacific, and the UN Office for Project Services and the Republic of Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST)