August 29, 2018

A free and secure Blue Pacific – CSO talks before Leaders meet

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.