COVID-19 has triggered deep transformations in the way intergovernmental organisations operate, and the Pacific Community (SPC) is no exception. This year the 50th meeting of the Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA) – SPC's main governance body, which has been in existence since 1984 – was set to be held in Noumea, with delegations from 26 member countries and territories and numerous international observers gathering in "The Meeting House of the Pacific".
However, the global pandemic and associated travel restrictions required the meeting to be held in a hybrid fashion, with some participants present in Noumea and Suva, and others participating through virtual connections.
In his first CRGA since assuming the role of Director-General, Dr Stuart Minchin provided participants with an overview of the organisation’s activities over the last year, and how SPC was adjusting to the impact of COVID-19. Despite the challenges faced by members across the region, the D-G’s report was positive, highlighting significant achievements across many sectors. Dr Minchin was quick to praise the commitment and dedication of Pacific leaders as fundamental to this success.
“I am very pleased to say that the Pacific spirit of cooperation, consensus and community has remained strong throughout these challenging times,” said Dr Minchin. “Of course, this commitment and dedication should not come as a surprise to anyone. It is merely the latest example of how our community rises up to meet common challenges. SPC’s entire history has been testament to this.”
CRGA 50 was Chaired by Papua New Guinea’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Barbara Age. Secretary Age had high praise for the work of SPC, stressing, in particular, the organisation’s work on education, food security and COVID response. She expressed confidence that the organisation was creating conditions to help support a quick post-COVID recovery.
“As we met this week, in the midst of the trying times in this unprecedented global COVID crisis, I can honestly say our progress as the Pacific Community brings me confidence that we have charted a way forward to deal with the challenges of COVID-19 and build back stronger and more resilient. This is not going to be easy. But in our collective efforts through SPC, and with the ongoing support of our key partners, we are much better equipped to do so successfully,” Secretary Age stated.
SPC members expressed their commitment to the 2050 Strategy – a shared vision of the region’s future that helps CROP partners, governments, regional and international stakeholders, private sector players, and civil society groups to coordinate and complement each other’s work towards a common vision for the ‘Blue Pacific Continent’. The alignment between this vision and the SPC Strategic Plan will be an essential pillar for the Strategy.
Several significant announcements were made on the sidelines of the CGRA meeting, which served to reinforce the strength and sustainability of SPC and its capacity to implement projects with and for its Pacific Island members. These included a renewal of the Government of Australia-SPC Partnership, including A$42.5 million in multi-year core funding to SPC, a EUR 2 million package of emergency financial support from the Agence française de développement (AFD), designed to strengthen the region’s epidemic surveillance and response capacity, a signing ceremony for the Kiwa initiative, a EUR 35M facility coordinated by AFD, with funding from five international donors (Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and the European Union) in support of biodiversity preservation and climate action through nature-based solutions, and the release of a revised SPC publication, ‘Cultural Etiquette in the Pacific’, highlighting the unique traditions of Pacific communities.
CRGA 50 was also an opportunity to reflect on history and celebrate how these meetings have helped to guide the region’s development goals and achievements. Photo and video galleries were provided through the CRGA website, for members and the public to look back on the proud history of Pacific leadership.
At the conclusion of CRGA 50, Vanuatu was announced as host of the 12th Conference of the Pacific Community and CRGA 51 in 2021. Dates for this event will be announced once confirmed.
Peter Foster, Director of Communications, Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected]
The Pacific Community has been supporting sustainable development in the Pacific, through science, knowledge and innovation since 1947. It is the principal intergovernmental organization in the region, owned and governed by its 26 member countries and territories.