Australia and SPC sign 10-year partnership agreement

Acting Secretary of the Australian Government?s Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr Paul Grigson, and SPC Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga.?

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Thursday, 13 March 2014, Noumea, New Caledonia???The Australian Government and Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) signed a 10-year partnership agreement in Canberra on Wednesday, 12 March.

The Partnership for Pacific Regionalism and Enhanced Development (2014?2023) was co-signed by the Acting Secretary of the Australian Government?s Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr Paul Grigson, and SPC Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga.

?This agreement changes the nature of the relationship between SPC and Australia to a partnership that enables change and optimises the potential for effective regional development,? Mr Grigson said.

?It brings together the comparative advantages of the Government of Australia as a key member of SPC and financing partner, and SPC as a Pacific-owned and managed specialist technical and scientific organisation with acknowledged expertise in advancing regional development.?

Australia has committed AUD 51 million for the first three years of the partnership. The funding will support SPC?s delivery of regional services in priority areas such as increasing trade in agriculture and forestry among small and medium enterprises; managing coastal fisheries for economic growth; and improving policies and legislation addressing non-communicable diseases. It will also enable consolidation of some existing SPC projects.

Dr Tukuitonga welcomed the renewed partnership, saying the multi-year funding gives SPC more certainty and will enable the organisation to plan better and recruit and retain good staff.

?This is an exciting time for SPC and for the relationship between SPC and Australia,? he said. ?The partnership holds out the promise of a new and better way of working together.?

?Above all, we will be able to focus on helping Pacific Island countries and territories achieve their long-term key development outcomes, rather than working project by project.?

In 2013, Australia provided approximately AUD 39.6 million to SPC, representing 36% of the total SPC budget. As part of improving the effectiveness of development assistance, SPC has been strengthening its monitoring, evaluation and learning systems and ability to report results.

?Australia recognises the considerable work SPC has done to improve performance reporting in 2013,? Mr Grigson said. ?Continuing to support SPC to enhance its reporting remains a key area of focus for the Australian Government.?

Dr Tukuitonga acknowledged the partnership?s focus on performance and effectiveness and its relevance for SPC.

?Performance benchmarks and effective aid are also key focuses for SPC. We expect them of ourselves, so we?re comfortable with Australia?s focus and we are continuing to position ourselves in a way to respond to this new arrangement.?