Pacific Island leaders gathered in Suva, Fiji this week to mark the opening of the Na Wekaqu Noqu iYau (My Relationships are my Heritage and Wealth) Multimedia Exhibition and launch of the Pacific Regional Culture Strategy 2022-2032.
Organised and hosted by the Pacific Community (SPC), the exhibition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture, while highlighting the value and significance of cultural heritage and indigenous and local knowledge in the framing and implementation of the Pacific Regional Culture Strategy and the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
The exhibition brought together Pacific leaders, government ministers, cultural custodians and development partners for an evening of Pacific art and culture including live performances, a photographic exhibition, cultural artifacts and multimedia displays of previous festivals.
Officiating at the event, Fiji’s President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere urged the leaders to ensure culture remained a priority in development.
“I am of the humble view that it is urgent and crucial as we engage in high-level decision-making that we remember the importance of culture and its contribution to sustainable development. I urge all leaders and decision makers in this space to reflect on the conversations tonight and as you enter into deep conversations about the future you envision for our Blue Pacific Region, that culture remains as a significant development priority and enabler for resilience building and positive developmental growth for our people,” he said.
There is increasing recognition of the role that culture plays as a driver and enabler of sustainable development in the Pacific in relation to specific development issues including climate change, food security, wellbeing and oceans.
SPC Director-General Dr Stuart Minchin said while culture conversations in the past largely focussed on protection or safeguarding of cultural heritage, today the scope had widened with culture now being recognised as an important stand-alone policy area and a cross-cutting priority issue for development.
“This cross-cutting agenda has relevance to our work around social cohesion and stability, economic development, environmental stability and towards building resilient communities. Our ongoing mission as a Pacific Organisation is to interweave science, technology and innovation with cultural wisdom and indigenous knowledge for our region’s collective betterment,” he said.
Over the years, the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FestPAC) has evolved and now represents much more than a cultural celebration.
Chair of the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture, Mapuana de Silva, expressed her gratitude to SPC for its ongoing efforts in ensuring culture and Pacific arts remained valued and supported.
“For us, the PRCS and FestPAC are more than just symbols of our identity. They offer tangible platforms and opportunities to strengthen, support and harness the benefits of culture mainstreaming and integration, and the due recognition for our invaluable indigenous knowledge systems, our values and our ways of life. The strategy provides a strong development platform to ensure that culture is appropriately considered and reflected in our efforts towards sustainable development,” she said.
FestPAC and the Pacific Regional Culture Strategy complement the intention of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent in its focus on Pacific-led and Pacific-driven development.
Samantha Rina, Pacific Community | [email protected]