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Pacific Islands Forum News

Majuro Declaration adopted at Forum – ‘real work begins now’, says Loeak

Marshall Is youth

Marshall Islands youth supporting a climate change agreement in Majuro. Image: Pacific Islands Forum

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Watch

Fourteen Pacific leaders have agreed to the Majuro Declaration at the Pacific Islands Forum in the Marshall Islands.

The 12-page document said governments in the region were committed to demonstrating “climate leadership” and called on countries to list “specific” pledges to reduce pollution, The Guardian reported.

According to Radio New Zealand International, however, the declaration was “light on details”.

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Working together to promote a climate for change in the Pacific

Connie Hedegaard

Connie Hedegaard at this year’s Pacific Islands Forum. Hedegaard is the European Commissioner for Climate Action. Image: Pacific Islands Forum

Pacific Scoop:
Commentary – By Connie Hedegaard

The Pacific region is on the front line of climate change. Its low-lying islands risk being swamped by rising sea levels and their inhabitants forced to emigrate.

In June, exceptionally high tides coupled with storm surges flooded parts of the Marshall Islands capital, Majuro. The rising waters topped the city sea walls. Some islanders were forced to evacuate their homes and a state of disaster was declared.

For the Pacific people, weather extremes are not about a distant future, they have become the new normal. Heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising oceans are the new reality of an ever-warming world.

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Future of Forum questioned – regional powers ‘not interested’, says academic

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Leaders from the Smaller Island States (SIS) met at the Pacific Islands Forum in Majuro this week.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Michael Sergel 

As this year’s Pacific Islands Forum enters its third day, the Pacific remains divided on the role and relevance of the region’s largest leadership summit, and whether Fiji should be a part of it.

Carbon emissions and fishing industry regulation have been among topics of conversation for delegates from sixteen member states during Wednesday’s talks – but an about-turn by New Zealand government on Fiji received the most attention.

The New Zealand government recognised Fiji’s constitution – due for assent tomorrow – as a step towards liberal democracy and human rights in the country. It also looked towards greater engagement with the state.

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Kerry warns of climate change impact in the Pacific at Forum

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John Kerry said that Pacific island nations need to prepare for the impact of climate change when speaking to the Pacific Islands Forum this week. Image: globaltimes.cn

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Watch

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, made no new environmental promises at his speech at the Pacific Islands Forum in Majuro this week, but said that there is “still time to prevent some of the worst impacts of climate change”.

Kerry, who addressed the Forum via a video link, acknowledged that the Pacific was on “the front lines of climate change” and that there was a need for climate change mitigation efforts.

“The people of the Pacific Islands know as well as anyone that we also need to prepare communities for the impacts that are already being felt.”

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NZ positive over new Fiji constitution as Forum discusses comeback

McCully

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully is generally positive to the new Fijian constitution. Image: fijisun.fj

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Watch

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says the release of Fiji’s new constitution is a “positive step, even if it is not perfect”.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the new constitution was part of a much practical progress in Fiji towards elections.

He said he hoped Suva looked at some of the constitution’s aspects more carefully, but said New Zealand wanted to look positively at current developments in Fiji.

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Climate action central focus as Pacific Islands Forum gets going

we are not drowning

Climate change is possibly the biggest challenge the Pacific faces in the 21st century. Initiatives like the “we are not drowning, we are fighting” campaign hopes to mitigate consequences of climate change. Image: Litia Maiava / Te Mana

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Michael Sergel

Climate change is top of the agenda, as the Pacific Islands Forum gets underway today.

Host country Marshall Islands is calling for strong committed action on preventing and responding to climate change, as it welcomes delegates from sixteen member states to the renewable village that will play host to the next four days of talks.

Marshall Islands Forum Minister Phillip Muller said the Majuro Declaration was about “tangible action” rather than a “you-go-first” approach to climate policy.

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Trade and climate top talking points when Pacific Islands Forum opens

Tuiloma Neroni Slade

A pre-Forum meeting about climate change took place yesterday in Majuro with Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade from Samoa, and other dignitaries present. Image: Pacific Islands Forum

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Michael Sergel

Australia, New Zealand and the United States will be challenged to act on climate change when regional leaders meet for the Pacific Islands Forum in the Republic of Marshall Islands this week.

Trade, and climate policy are expected to be top talking points when the largest gathering of Pacific leaders gets underway in the capital of Majuro today.

Canoes, dancers and a village of solar-powered thatched huts will greet four hundred leaders and delegates from fifteen Pacific countries and thirteen partner states, in one of the largest events the nation of 53,000 people has ever hosted.

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New Pacific islands development bloc takes on Australian dominance

Xanana Gusmao and Voreqe Bainimarama

East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao with his Fiji counterpart President Voreqe Bainimarama in Nadi: “Having the East Timorese leader there was an important bridge for Asia-Pacific relations.” Image: Graham Davis

Pacific Scoop:
Analysis – By Kalinga Seneviratne in Singapore

A new Pacific islands forum will seek to challenge the dominance of Australia and New Zealand in a regional body. The new grouping’s approach is being billed the “Pacific Way”, and also the “green and blue” way for its commitment to environmentally sustainable oceans as well as land.

The new Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) challenges the Pacific Island Forum (PIF), a 16-member inter-governmental organisation which includes 14 Pacific Island countries plus Australia and New Zealand.

The PIF is headquartered in Fijian capital Suva. Fiji itself was suspended from the PIF in 2009 after naval commander Voreqe Bainimarama grabbed power in a coup in 2006 and refused to hold elections. Read more »

PNG Prime Minister’s Indonesia visit raises questions over West Papua stance

Peter O'Neill Pacific Scoop

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s Jakarta visit may be bad news for West Papua. Image: Pacific Scoop.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Daniel Drageset

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill will travel to Jakarta this weekend for discussions with the Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

O’Neill will discuss trade, the West Papua situation, border issues and an extradition treaty with Yudhoyono, Radio Australia reports.

The visit comes just days before the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) meets in New Caledonia to decide if the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation will be granted membership.
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West Papua ‘observer’ status issue faces critical Melanesian summit

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Flags of the Melanesian Spearhead group countries … Papua New Guinea (clockwise from top left), Kanaky (host territory), Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. Is West Papua’s Morning Star flag about to join them? Image: MSG Kantri

Decisions at next month’s Melanesian Spearhead Group 25th jubilee and leaders’ summit in Noumea will shape the future of the Pacific region. Topics are expected to include West Papua, the environment and the future of MSG relations with the Pacific Islands Forum. Jamie Small reports for Asia-Pacific Journalism.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Jamie Small

West Papua may become a crucial issue for the Pacific if the Melanesian Spearhead Group next month decides to offer observer status to the Indonesian-ruled region at its leaders’ summit next month.

The MSG leaders will be gathering in Noumea, New Caledonia, for the organisation’s 25th jubilee and many serious matters will be on the table.

Peter Forau, Director-General of the MSG, says the major focus of the summit will be on West Papua’s proposed addition to the group as an observer state. Read more »

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