A new six-year Partnership between Australia and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) aims to leverage the efforts of Forum Island Countries to realise their aspirations for effective regionalism.
The Australia-PIFS Partnership (2014-2019) was co-signed by Australian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Brett Mason and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Secretary General, Tuiloma Neroni Slade at the Forum Secretariat headquarters in Suva on Monday 28 April.
“I welcome this long term agreement with Australia, which remains an invaluable partner for the Pacific Islands Forum and the whole region,” saidTuiloma Neroni Slade. “This Partnership reflects the strategic positioning of the Forum Secretariat, in taking the regional agenda forward.”
The Partnership transitions Australia’s funding to the Forum Secretariat from single year to three-year funding cycles, improving the Secretariat’s funding predictability to enable a greater focus on longer term planning and performance.
Australia has committed AUD 21.6 million (approximately FJD 36.6 million) for the first three years of the Partnership (2014-2016), with Senator Mason reaffirming the Forum Secretariat’s crucial role in advancing regionalism.
“Supporting the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in providing Pacific Island countries with the political and policy means to improve their development prospects is essential to a thriving Pacific neighbourhood,” Senator Mason said.
“We believe that regionalism and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has a critical role to play in the security and development of the Pacific.”
Under this Partnership, Australia will support the PIFS Corporate Plan, its Program Strategic Plans, as well as the implementation of recommendations from the Pacific Plan Review.
“We are committed, both as a key Forum member and also a development partner, to engaging with the Forum Secretariat more effectively and consistently, with our shared goal being to help member countries realise their development aspirations through deeper and more effective Pacific regionalism,” Senator Mason said.
Senator Mason welcomed the return of annual High Level Consultations between Australia and the Forum Secretariat as a key mechanism to discuss issues of mutual importance and strategic value including joint assessments of performance.