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NEW YORK———-Fiji had promised to implement sustainable development goals (SDGs), pledging to leave no one behind.

However, for those that are marginalized due to living in remote maritime islands, those living with disability and gender based violence for example, the risk of exclusion remains, not only in Fiji, but throughout the region. 

However, for those that are marginalized due to living in remote maritime islands, those living with disability and gender based violence for example, the risk of exclusion remains, not only in Fiji, but throughout the region.
 
Representatives of Fiji Civil Society Organisations, represented at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York met with the Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations, Dr. Satyendra Prasad and Minister for Economy, the focal point of the Voluntary National Review (VNR) of the SDGs in Fiji, Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, for a brief update on their work towards the VNR for sustainable development. A sevusevu to the Fiji PRUN was led by the Fiji Council of Social Services chairman, Kunaika Sitiveni.

 PIANGO Technical Advisor, Emele Duituturaga said the Fiji CSOs are well organised in preparing their report. However, there has not been meaningful engagement between government and the Fiji CSO VNR taskforce.
 
Leave no one behind, has been the rallying cry of the \ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which feature a cross-cutting focus on inclusiveness and addressing inequalities at this year’s High Level Political Forum in NY, the annual review mechanism for country reports. This collective 2030 Agenda underscores the importance of working in partnership with civil society in its implementation.

Fiji CSOs representatives at the meeting , from left Rainbow Pride Foundation 4 LGBTQ Rights and Equality in Fiji, Project Support Officer Amasai Jeke, PIANGO Programme Officer , Akmal Ali, Laisa Vereti of Pacific Disability Forum, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Executive Director Nalini Singh, PIANGO Techical Advisor Emele Duituturaga, Fiji Council of Social Services, Executive Director Vani Catanasiga and FCOSS Chairman Sitiveni Kunaika.

 

 “It is more urgent now that we need to localise the SDGs. Not just pushing for internationally-agreed goals at the local level, but making the aspirations of the SDGs become real to communities, households and individuals, particularly to those who are at risk of falling behind,” Duituturaga said.
 

“We need to consolidate our strengths to collaborate across sectors and make the spirit of Agenda 2030 come to life for all people.”
 
Dr Prasad, while welcoming the delegations, said that civil society reporting on national progress towards the SDGs is  crucial which provides an important complement to official accounts of progress.
 
“I am so proud of the work that you do and we are in a better position to report the result of the action on the ground,” Dr Prasad said.
 
 “Fiji is looking at reporting again next year,” he added.
 
He said, CSO plays a critical role in challenging government’s progress, they must continue, to ensure that Fiji achieves the Agenda by 2030.
 
Hon. Sayed-Khaiyum, said the achievement of SDGs and the Agenda 2030 absolutely needs partnership between civil society, private sectors and government.
 
CSOs are willing to continue with the talanoa and explore ways in which they can facilitate the discussion that needs to take place, to enhance and strengthen their capacity when government opens the door of engagement.
 
Fiji will present its VNR report today July 16, at the United Nations Headquarters.
 
Fiji CSOs representatives at the meeting included Fiji Council of Social Services, Executive Director Vani Catanasiga, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Executive Director Nalini Singh, Rainbow Pride Foundation Fiji, Project Support Officer Amasai Jeke and PIANGO Project Officer, Akmal Ali and  Laisa Vereti of the Pacific Disability Forum.

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A two-day PIANGO CSO Dialogue on the role of National CSO platforms as development actors in advancing the framework for Pacific Regionalism at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat was organised in March.
About 16 NLU’s members gathered to reflect on the most stagnant issues and issues that urgently need the attention of their Forum leaders and development partners and effectively dialogue their roles as Pacific voices in the development of the region.

Pacific Civil Society Organisations (SCO’s) gathered in January and February to strategise on Pacific priorities for the Post Cotonou Agreement negotiations, scrutinising documents relating to the negotiating positions of the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States

Statement by the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (PIANGO) Executive Director Emele Duituturaga,  at the Climate Action Pacific Partnership (CAPP) III.

Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji

Honourable President of the Republic of Palau

Honourable Head States of Governments.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Representatives

 

The Pacific Islands Associations of Non Governmental Organisations is pleased, on behalf of Pacific NGOs and Civil Society to reaffirm and embrace the principles of Talanoa reflected in the spirit of collaboration and inclusivity that underlies the strength of this partnership. Celebrating our diversity while reaffirming our collective resolve to work together as a Pacific family leaving no family behind.

 

We commend the continuation of CAPP and the recognition that Pacific Non State Actors are vital to mitigation, adaptation and resilient climate action. We too and our constituencies call for access to and support from climate financing.

We remain committed to the Suva Declaration, the Paris Agreement and resultant Partnerships for Global Action; and call for intensifying global action in limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degree.

We amplify the call for climate justice and the ‘polluters pay’ principle to ensure that carbon major and responsible parties pay for the economic and non-economic losses and damages discussed here.

We reiterate the calls to ensure a people centered, human rights based approach to development just transition ensuring elements of protection, gender inclusive decision making taking into account the differing needs of persons of all gender, ages, disabilities and backgrounds.

We commend to you the critical role of youth as having the greatest stake in our collective future, our young Pacific warriors and climate change campaigners for their mobilization in the region and across the world. There is a need to better harness their energy, innovation and boldness in intergenerational climate action.

We recognise that while our cultures and identity face an existential threat from climate change effects, we can also draw on our indigenous knowledge and time tested traditions to mitigate the impacts of climate change and strengthen our resilience.

Together, we must strengthen and advance the resilience of our people and support community led action as espoused under the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific.

We urge for the engagement of all partners in addressing climate-driven and disaster-induced forced displacement, planned relocation, safe and orderly internal and external migration strengthening communities inter-understanding as alluded to by the leaders.

Threatened by the impacts of climate change, we agree that we must collectively work together to reverse the decline in ocean health. For us Pacific people, the ocean is our lifeblood, and it must be sustained, conserved and governed for our children and future generations.

In respect to Blue Pacific narrative espoused by our leaders, we applaud your collective effort as Pacific Leaders to place oceans on the global agenda alongside climate. To frame the discourse of Agenda 2030.

We propose a stronger expression of Nexus between climate, ocean, human security in dignity and human rights as front center of the Boe Deceleration and the upcoming August leaders meeting in Tuvalu.

As you go forth to meet the UN Secretary General tomorrow, at the September Special Climate Summit and the December Blue COP, know that we Pacific Civil Society stand with you.

Be bold!  Be courageous!

The beacon of hope in this climate crisis.

I Thank You.

The roundtable provided a regional space for Civil Society representatives from around the Pacific who had registered to attend the 52nd ADB Annual Meeting to reflect on the broader sustainable development agenda and priorities from the perspectives on the Agenda 2030 and Development Effectiveness in linking the priorities of ADB to the priorities of the Countries.

Civil Society Representatives commend the commitment of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to actively engage with Fiji and Pacific human rights defenders and civil society actors in putting human rights at the heart of their collaboration in accordance with the UN Charter.

This was after Deputy High Commissioner Human Rights Kate Gilmore met with activist human rights defenders and representatives of Civil Society Organisation on Tuesday for an open and frank dialogue of the state of human rights protection and violations in Fiji and the region.


Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (PIANGO) Executive Director Emele Duituturaga handed the Deputy High Commissioner Human Rights Kate Gilmore a joint submission put together by CIVICUS, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM), Citizens Constitutional Forum(CCF) and PIANGO to the UN Universal Periodic Review 34 th Session of the UPR working group for the upcoming Fiji UPR in November.

“It’s an extraordinary experience to listen to your courage, your stamina and how profoundly loyal you are to the future of this country and the region, “Gilmore said.

“In your hands, you have here, a condensed, immediate and high pressure version of the largest challenges the world is facing,” she added.

Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (PIANGO) Executive Director Emele Duituturaga handed Gilmore a joint submission put together by CIVICUS, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM), Citizens Constitutional Forum(CCF) and PIANGO to the UN Universal Periodic Review 34 th Session of the UPR working group for the upcoming Fiji UPR in November.

The report, according to Duituturaga is based on evidence collected over a period of time monitoring Freedom of speech, Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of Association which are the fundamental rights affecting the enabling environment for civil society actors.

Gilmore said there’s a deterioration in speaking the truth and dealing with facts and she thanked CSO’s for their leadership and conviction to speak out.

“I hear you, I hear your frustration and I ask you to keep going, we need you and the world needs you and more importantly the people of Fiji and the Pacific need you and you must not forget that you will need each other in that exercise, “Gilmore added.

Meanwhile, Duituturaga said while it is recognised that Fiji is the first Pacific Island nation tow in a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, this calls for greater accountability and closer scrutiny that Fiji is walking its talk as a champion of Human Rights at home as it is saying in Geneva.

“We are geared up for the Fiji November UPR,” Duituturaga said.

“It will provide the opportunity to spotlight the unwarranted restrictions on civic space since its last UPR examination, particularly in relation to the freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression”.

Gilmore, began her official visit to Fiji on Tuesday to discuss the human rights situation in the country with authorities, human rights defenders, representatives of civil society, U.N Agencies and the international community.

There is a need for a strong coalition of humanitarian actors, including governments to demand speedy action on Localisation of Humanitarian aid, resourcing of national and local leadership and more equitable partnerships.  At the same time, Localisation needs to link to the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific.

This was highlighted at the Australasian Aid Conference, in Canberra earlier this week by a panel session led by Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (PIANGO) Executive Director Emele Duituturaga.The discussion titled “Tracking Progress on World Humanitarian Summit Commitments in the Pacific” reflected on research that has been done in the humanitarian community and what the evidence is saying.

Panelists included Linda Kenni of HAG, Josaia Jirauni of PIANGO,  Fiona Tarpey of Australian Red Cross and Grace Asten of Anglican Overseas Aid. Panelists shared how their respective organisations were addressing localisation and lessons learned from TC Pam, TC Winston, TC Gita and the Ambae response in Vanuatu.

Led by the Vanuatu Association of NGOs (VANGO), PIANGO and Humanitarian Advisory Group (HAG), a baseline measurement of Localisation in Vanuatu was presented at the conference.

 Localisation in Vanuatu

A baseline measurement of Localisation in Vanuatu was presented at the Australasian Aid Conference .

“Localisation has been well discussed within the International and Pacific NGO sector, but Pacific governments still have to be engaged in the Localisation discourse to recognise the role of national and local NGOs,”Ms Duituturaga said.

Ms Duituturaga said it was interesting to note in the Vanuatu baseline that although some local NGOs had met donor required standards, however they still did not receive direct funding which is still channeled to INGOs who then engage local NGOs as their implementers.

The humanitarian sector is currently developing ways to measure progress on Localisation following the commitments made at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit.

“Generating an evidence base on Localisation is important in order to demonstrate what change is happening and the impact it is having,” Ms Duituturaga added.

“In the Pacific where 80 per cent of its population are rural based, the first and the last response is always the local response. But the resourcing is still centralized; partnerships are not equitable; there is weak coordination and lack of complimentarity. These are key issues to be addressed especially at the country levels.”

PIANGO is taking a lead role and will be looking at how they can raise this topic at the upcoming Inaugural Pacific Resilience Meeting in April.

“We need to look at how we can contribute as a strong pull factor for Localisation that it is aligned to the Charter of Change and the Grand Bargain commitments made at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit,”she added.

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The Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (PIANGO) has been granted Special consultative status by the United Nations.

PIANGO ‘s acceptance to engage with the UN’s Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies was announced by the new UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Fiji – Mr Sanaka Samarasinha, in his first public engagement soon after presenting his credentials to Fiji President Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote last week.

Mr Samarasinha said PIANGO’s ECOSOC status was a milestone achievement for civil society in the region.
At a special function attended by representatives of UN Agencies, Government officials, CSO representatives and PIANGO’s affiliates from around the Pacific at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi last week, he said the voices of the Pacific’s people’s would be amplified on the world stage.
ECOSOC is the UN’s central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development.It deals with economic, social, cultural, health, human rights, fundamental freedoms and also coordinates the work of the UN and its specialised agencies
Gaining ECOSOC status allows PIANGO to be informed about the provisional agenda of the Economic and Social Council. PIANGO may request the Secretary-General through the Committee of NGOs to place items of special interest in the provisional agenda of Council.
With ECOSOC status, PIANGO is now entitled to designate official representatives to the United Nations Headquarters in New York and the United Nationals offices in Geneva and Vienna.
PIANGO board chairperson Ms. Sarah Thomas Nededog said the consultative status is the highest status an NGO could attain.
“This privilege opens doors to opportunities for input to the development of global policy on socio-economic issues facing our beloved Pacific,” Ms. Nededog said.
“In the coming months, PIANGO will develop strategies to ensure that our member organisations and partner entities can maximize this new role with the UN so that the voices of our Pacific people can be heard throughout the chambers of the UN and around the world.”
Hosting the celebratory function in Nadi, PIANGO executive director Emele Duituturaga said it was great news for the people of the Pacific.
“It’s a big step forward for all of us, our NLUs and the Pacific,” she said while paying tribute to some former and current staff of PIANGO.
“Many have contributed to this achievement and it is a personal joy and privilege to be in leadership at such a time as this.”
Representatives of PIANGO’s affiliates who were in Nadi to attend the week long UN SDG/ Voluntary National Review (VNR) workshop also commended PIANGO and said they looked forward to more active participation in its work.
Fiji Council of Social Services executive director Vani Catanasiga delivered the welcoming remarks and expressed delight at PIANGO’s achievement, saying this was particularly timely as Fiji prepares to submit and present its VNR report tothe UN in New York in July 2019.

Priscilla Kare, the PNG affiliate representative, said PIANGO’s status meant that regional and national CSOs could now register for UN meetings under PIANGO’s accreditation status, without having to look for others as it has always done in the past 27 years since its set up.

Fiji Government representatives, UN agencies, Secretariat of the Pacific Community and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat also joined the PIANGO family to celebrate the event in Nadi last week.

THE Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental (PIANGO) has praised the
decision of the traditional elders of the Pacific island of Futuna for disallowing any work
related to seabed mining in their waters.
PIANGO executive director Emele Duituturaga said they stood with other regional
NGOs and Pacific churches in the continued call for a ban on seabed mining.
“We have not seen income from terrestrial mining improve the lives of Pacific peoples
and we doubt very much this will be the case for seabed mining,” she said, adding that it
was still unclear what level of income governments will receive – let alone communities.
Ms. Duituturaga said the changing climate leading to warming of the ocean is already
having an impact on fisheries and ocean livelihoods in the region.
She said that evidence showed some local fishing practices and land uses are also
damaging the health of local food supplies on the coasts and inland and it was
becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the health and integrity of these sources,
especially after a disaster and resource extraction.
She said they often cannot afford to buy food and water from other sources and the
threat seabed mining posed on the surrounding environment would further compound
this.
Ms. Duituturaga said the poor are most affected when local supplies are disrupted.
“There is little consideration for what will happen and what kind of remedies are
available if planned exploration/ exploitation severely disrupts the environment. The
ocean is a global commons. It belongs to us all; and we are all affected by changes in
it.”
The traditional kingdoms on Futuna stated that their decision, expressed at a meeting in
Futuna with French delegates sent to explain the potential of mining rare earths, was
final and that any discussion about land matters had to be held with the customary
leadership and not with the assembly of Wallis and Futuna.
Ms. Duituturaga said it was pleasing to see traditional leaders make such a bold
decision in the interests of their people.
She said PIANGO urged Pacific island governments to be responsible on this issue and
not make hasty decisions.
“We are insistent that independent social and environmental studies are conducted,”
she said.
“We are concerned that biodiversity and life under the sea will be destroyed and these
minerals that have taken thousands of years to deposit will be extracted without
replenishment.
“There is no evidence to assure us that that seabed mining is not harmful and not
disruptive to livelihoods from the surrounding oceans.”

Civil society representatives will converge in Nauru ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting, to discuss key issues affecting the lives of Pacific Peoples.

A joint initiative between the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations (PIANGO) and its National Affiliate – Nauru Islands Association of Non-Government Organisation (NIANGO), are convening two CSO Roundtables to precede next week’s PIF Leaders CSO Dialogue.

The preceding Roundtables will be guided by the theme “Rethinking and Reshaping a Free and Secure Blue Pacific” -with the understanding that one of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders agenda is on regional security. 

PIANGO Deputy Executive Director Siale Ilolahia reaches out to the community on Radio Nauru. Beside her is NIANGO Co-ordinator Julie Olsson. Photo: PIANGO

A national CSO Roundtable,will take place this Friday 31 August for national and local CSOs who will meet to discuss theirissues and concerns linking to the Forum Leaders- CSO Dialogue themes of climate change, human security, sports, non-communicable diseases and inclusive engagement of civil society.

A regional CSO Roundtable on Monday 3 September, in Nauru will bring together national and regional CSOs where national concerns will be explored further and regional exchanges on issues tabled in the Forum-CSO Dialogue regional agenda.

The Forum Leaders-CSO Dialogue will take place on Tuesday 4 September – a closed session between Pacific Islands Forum Leaders and selected civil society representatives from each of the 14 Members of the Forum Island States organised by the Forum Secretariat.

PIANGO and NIANGO are capitalising on this Nauru Pacific Island Forum opportunity to bring the Forum agenda and regional policies to a wider national audience for civil society participation and understanding of the regional agenda.

NIANGO Co-ordinator Julie Olsson said, “It is all about commitment to creating and reinforcing space for civil society participation in the national agenda.”

“Civil society is a large and critical component to making meaningful national decisions through inclusive government policies that invariably affect the delivery of services and quality of life of the people for whom these public services are targeted.”

PIANGO Executive Deputy Director Siale Ilolahia said, “Through our membership reach to the wider CSO Pacific regional community, PIANGO wants to encourage meaningful and proactive participation in the ‘rethinking’ and ‘reshaping’ of our approaches for a Free and Secure Blue Pacific.”  

“The Forum-CSO Dialogue is recognition of the growing role of civil society in matters of policy decision-making at the regional level”

“It is to the credit of our Pacific Leaders that they have broken waves by moving this CSO challenge into the Forum agenda.”

This is the Fourth Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting that has included dialogue with civil society representatives including the prior meetings in PNG (2015), FSM (2016) and Samoa (2017).

“We are so proud and honoured to host the 2018 Pacific Island Leaders Forum as it is a practical connection to the larger Pacific family,” Ms Olsson said.

“Being a small Island State, such inclusion in the greater Pacific programme is of significant importance and affirmation to us – not only as a Pacific Island State but also for civil society.

“We join hands in our continuing commitment to “Building a Strong Pacific: Our People, Our Islands, Our Will.”

PIANGO is grateful to the EU and PIFS NSA Programme for their funding support.

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