STATEMENT BY DR MINCHIN
DELIVERED AT OPENING OF THE YOUTH FORUM
PACIFIC RESILIENCE MEETING (VIRTUAL MEETING)
5 JULY 2021
Secretary General for the Pacific Islands Forum – Secretary General Henry Puna
Youth Representative – Tokasa Seinibiau
CROP Agencies and Development Partners
Organisers of the PRM Youth Forum 2021
Ladies and Gentlemen
Bonjour and warm greetings from the Pacific Community Headquarters in Noumea.
On behalf of the Pacific Community, I am honoured to join Secretary General Puna and Ms Tokasa Seinibiau in addressing all of you joining us online for the Official Opening of this Youth Forum, a key segment of the Pacific Resilience Meeting 2021.
You may be aware that the Pacific Community (SPC) is the principal scientific and technical organisation in our region. The organisation’s development goals include ensuring that Pacific people benefit from sustainable economic development, that our Pacific communities are empowered and resilient, and that Pacific people reach their potential and live long and healthy lives.
SPC works across more than 25 sectors – much of our focus is on major cross-cutting issues, such as climate change, disaster risk management, food security, energy security, gender equality, youth development, human rights, culture preservation, data dissemination, health and education.
Using a multi-sector approach in responding to our members’ development priorities, we draw on skills and capabilities from around the region and internationally and support the empowerment of Pacific communities and sharing of expertise and skills between countries and territories. To achieve genuine and lasting improvement in people’s lives, our focus is on working with all members, development partners, other CROP agencies and regional stakeholders to deliver integrated services that advance their progress towards addressing their development challenges and achieving their aspirations. This Youth Forum is another testament to that approach.
As a region, our demographic profile reflects our young population structure, with more than half of the Pacific’s total population aged under 25 years, 90% of whom are concentrated in Melanesia – Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. This ‘youth bulge’ presents a number of development challenges, notably ensuring universal access to education and training opportunities, decent work and employment as well as youth friendly health services, including family planning, impacts of climate change and social exclusion from decision making processes. These challenges have indeed been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the climate crisis we as a region are dealing with today.
From the perspective of SPC, our work continues to be guided by the Pacific Youth Development Framework (PYDF). Under this framework, SPC is committed to working with countries in the region and other stakeholders to empower young people to engage in decision-making processes on matters which affect the region and to inform the decisions which affect the region, including and especially in relation to the environmental and climate change targets outlined in the Pacific Youth Development Framework which are in line with the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP).
The Pacific Community’s current and ongoing engagement in the development of the 2050 Development Strategy ensures that the role young people play in disaster risk reduction, climate change, low carbon development and in disaster preparedness, response and recovery is reflected and prioritised. We anticipate that the 2050 Strategy will not only be translated into inclusive programmes and policies, but also reflected in resourcing commitments to ensure meaningful implementation.
The inaugural Pacific Resilience Meeting (PRM) is an opportunity to engage Pacific young people to contribute their experiences and perspectives on how to address climate change, disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness, response and recovery. With the theme “Our People, Our Journey: Nurturing Pacific Resilience from Home”, it is only fitting that young people are actively engaged.
I congratulate the organising group who have put together this Youth Forum for providing the space for a greater representation by our young people at all levels to discuss, learn and celebrate the progress made in the Four Pillars of Resilience. This is a great opportunity to coordinate a collective voice that will be tabled in the PRM conference scheduled over 6-8 July.
I encourage you all to make the most of the opportunity and this very important space. Our region is unique and renowned for its ways of knowing and being, which has made us resilient to change over many years, not least through climate change and most recently COVID-19. This is our Pacific journey, a journey which has started by our ancestors. Today it is our duty to nurture and sustain our Pacific ways of resilience for our people.
I wish you well in your discussions today and looking forward to receiving the outcomes of your meeting.
Thank you for the honour of speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the 2021 PRM Youth Forum.