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Annual Pacific Islands Forum Opens in FSM

Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia- The 16-nation Pacific Islands group started the 47th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meetings Wednesday with the annual Smaller Island States (SIS) meeting.

Small Island States leaders meet at Pohnpei, FSM

This group, comprised of Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau and Tuvalu, reiterated that their unique vulnerabilities, including climate finance, air transport, and fisheries, should be part of the forum’s policy agenda.

In that meeting the SIS leaders reiterated commitment implementing the climate goals as stated in the Paris agreement.

Smaller island states were very instrumental in prompting action on climate change during the Paris agreement negotiations.

“We could not have gotten a Paris agreement without the incredible efforts and hard work of the island nations, they made an enormous difference," US President Barack Obama in a IUCN conference in Hawaii stated.

Henry Puna, Cook Islands Prime Minister and chair of the SIS, told reporters after the meeting yesterday that climate finance is important for the small island states and the Pacific island countries.

“However especially so for small island states for our vulnerability, and that we are right in the front line of impact of climate change,” Puna stated.

Puna said that during the meeting SIS are considering a joint and united approach in accessing GCF.

According to a press statement from the PIF Secretariat, leaders will be exploring the options for a joint proposal to the Green Climate Fund.

At the recent GCF meeting in Suva, the Fund indicated it was open to such a proposal. Discussions here focused on the need for the proposal to demonstrate tangible benefits for people at the national and community levels of the SIS.

Puna said “Today’s meeting is the first of a suite of very important events for us and our region this week. I am confident that the SIS, through our SIS Regional Strategy, are taking the right steps to both addressing challenges and maximizing our opportunities. Our deliberations within the wider Forum family and development partners later in the week will set a solid foundation to lead and carry forward our regional priorities.”

SIS Leaders endorsed a new Regional Strategy in a meeting in Palau in June. The strategy is to ensure greater influence and presence by the SIS in shaping the regional policy agenda. The Strategy focuses SIS efforts in addressing issues relating to climate change, air and sea transport, marine, health, and labor mobility.

SIS also welcomed host country FSM to the group, Puna before the meeting officially started announced FSM inclusion into SIS, “In the true Pacific Way, we wholeheartedly agreed to support and welcome FSM into the SIS family.”

The Secretary General of the PIF, Dame Meg Taylor, then led FSM President Peter Christian into the Chamber.

Joining the other leaders at the SIS Leaders table, Christian said, “The Federated States of Micronesia takes this as a great honor to be included as a member of SIS. It is something that we have wanted for a long time.”

The official opening of the forum will be held Thursday and it’s expected that a beautiful display of FSM’s culture will great the leaders and PIF delegates.

Australian’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will be heading to FSM to join the other leaders this week for the forum.

State Minister Billy Kuartei heads Palau’s delegation here.

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