11 June 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Noumea, New Caledonia- Today the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Government of Cook Islands commenced a week of in-country consultations to determine the interventions SPC will undertake in the country over the next three years and form the basis of what will be the second Cook Islands – SPC joint country strategy.
The Cook Islands – Secretariat of the Pacific Community Joint Country Strategy 2013–2015 is a partnership document mapping out SPC’s planned engagement with Cook Islands across the technical sectors in which it works, which include public health, fisheries, aquaculture, marine ecosystems, statistics for development, applied geosciences, disaster risk management, water resources, agriculture, forestry, land resources, health, transport, energy, and human development (youth, culture and gender). The planned strategies in the JCS will be closely aligned to the sectoral strategies articulated in the strategic plans of the respective line ministries to support the goals and objectives espoused in the national sustainable development plan, the Cook Islands Te Kaveinga Nui 2011–2015.
Kicking off this week-long process is the first series of sectoral consultations with the ministries of marine resources and agriculture, and with energy sector stakeholders. In these consultations, which will continue over the week, Cook Islands and SPC will agree on key areas of support, with an emphasis on achieving development outcomes for the people of Cook Islands over the three-year period.
SPC Director-General Dr Jimmie Rodgers said, ‘SPC is anticipating very much the outcomes from this JCS because Cook Islands is only the second SPC member country to commence with the second generation joint country strategy development.’ He added, ‘SPC has set clear guidelines to ensure that the discussions over the course of the week will be based on the development priorities articulated by the Government of Cook Islands and that the mutually agreed content of the JCS will be firmly based on the Cook Islands Te Kaveinga Nui and SPC’s capacities and priorities as encapsulated in the new SPC Corporate Strategic Plan 2013–2015.’
The Acting Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Ms Myra Patai, echoed Dr Rodgers’ sentiments, adding, ‘As SPC’s official contact point and on behalf of the Government, we welcome the SPC mission to the Cook Islands and will endeavour to support them in this JCS process, a process the Cook Islands has supported through SPC’s governing body, the CRGA. That said, we especially look forward to receipt of the agreed, second Cook Islands JCS once finalised.’ Ms Patai further stated, ‘For the Cook Islands, sectoral participation is essential so that our line ministries take advantage of the valuable assistance and resources made available by SPC, and work together with our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Central Planning and Policy Office so as to coordinate efforts in order to achieve our desired national targets, supported by a robust monitoring and evaluation framework.’
Dr Rodgers concluded, ‘SPC’s independent external review acknowledged that from its inception, SPC has worked to ensure its programmes are appropriately tailored to address key regional constraints, and that its efforts on developing JCSs have reinforced its relevance in the region by ensuring that SPC services to members are aligned with specific country needs.’
The JCS mission will conclude on Tuesday 18 June with a closing plenary, at which SPC and Cook Islands sector counterparts will present mutually agreed programme interventions and areas for potential assistance.