Commonwealth Secretary-General commends Pacific Islands Forum and pledges continued support

16 November 2023
Pacific Island Forum

Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, joined Pacific Island Forum leaders in the Cook Islands last week, pledging her continued support to the region.

She was speaking on the theme ‘People-Centred Development’ at the Pacific Islands Forum 2050 Dialogues, held alongside the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting.

During her address, the Commonwealth Secretary-General expressed her pride and admiration for the Pacific Island Forum, stating:

“The beauty, heritage, and diversity of the Pacific Islands are a blessing to the world.  And the Commonwealth is blessed with 11 Pacific members, one of which – Samoa – will host our next Heads of Government Meeting.
“You are at the heart of our Commonwealth Family, and our partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum defines our shared ambition to work together to tackle the challenges we all face.”

She highlighted the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub (CCFAH) which was set up in 2015 with an investment of US $6 million. To date, the CCFAH has helped 19 Commonwealth countries access more than US $310 million in climate finance, with an additional US $500 million worth of projects in the pipeline.

In the Pacific, CCFAH has mobilised about US $45.9 million for projects in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Tonga, with training workshops conducted for hundreds of officials in these countries as well as Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Secretary-General went on to speak about the Commonwealth’s longstanding engagement with the Pacific, highlighting its comprehensive support for the region’s 2050 strategy for the ‘Blue Continent’, covering areas such as investment, supply chain resilience, cyber security and deep ocean science.

People-centred development

She added that people-centred development is
“at the centre of the Commonwealth Charter and our work at the Commonwealth Secretariat”.

Expanding on this commitment, Secretary-General Scotland highlighted the three key pillars guiding the Commonwealth’s people-centred development efforts.

The first pillar, she said, prioritises climate action in people-centred development, steering the design and delivery of various Commonwealth programmes, including the Blue Charter, the Climate Finance Access Hub and the Living Lands Charter.

A strong emphasis on equality and inclusion, the Secretary-General continued, was the second pillar, which is driven by mandates from the 56 Commonwealth leaders, particularly the last year’s Commonwealth Declaration on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

Recognising 2023 as the Commonwealth Year of Youth, she added that the final pillar centres on youth empowerment, aimed at unlocking the untapped potential of youth for people-centred development in the Pacific and other Commonwealth regions.

Secretary-General Scotland told the delegates that these mandates set the agenda for the Commonwealth’s plan of action to support equitable climate action, inclusive growth, equal decision-making and the inclusion of women and people with disabilities.

She continued that the Commonwealth Secretariat’s work in the Pacific is tailored to respond to the unique needs of its small island developing states, adding that the organisation’s engagements complement the region’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

During her visit, the Secretary-General also had bilateral meetings with Pacific leaders and Heads of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific, where she reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s commitment to the region.

In addition, the Secretary-General encouraged Pacific member countries to take advantage of the Commonwealth’s Artificial Intelligence Consortium to support digital upskilling of young people and bridge the digital divide for small states.

This was the 52nd annual Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting held in the Cook Islands under the theme ‘Our Voices, Our Choice, Our Pacific Way’. It was chaired by the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Hon Mark Brown.

Media contact

For media enquiries, please contact: 

  • Snober Abbasi  Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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