Strong leadership, effective institutions and mutually accountable partnerships between Pacific island countries and their development partners is the key to translating the S.A.M.O.A. pathway into action was the message of the “Forum Compact side event” held at the SIDS Conference in Apia on Tuesday.
In an event moderated by Veronica Pedrosa of the Al Jazeera Network, a high level panel of the Prime Minister of Samoa, Honourable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, President of Kiribati, H.E Anote Tong, the Papua New Guinea Minister of National Planning, Honourable Charles Abel, Senator Brett Mason, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Australia, Helen Clark, the UNDP Administrator, Erik Solhiem of the Chair of the OECD DAC, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and Craig Hawke, Deputy from New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, discussed the issues of Small Island Developing States and the need for effective use of aid.
“Reform is difficult and painful, but must be done,” explained the President of Kiribati. “The introduction of a domestic tax regime has not been popular, but is necessary if we are to fund development in our islands.”
“Samoa is a champion of the peer review process under the Forum Compact,” stressed the Prime Minister of Samoa. “Pacific countries learn best from each other, and Samoa has been keen to share our experience and contribute to more effective aid management and delivery across the region.” The Planning Minister of Papua New Guinea explained the difficulty of his country achieving the Millennium Development Goals given it’s large, scattered population and high levels of poverty, and the need to tailor the goals.
Erik Solheim and Helen Clark both emphasized that need for effective aid, including adopting new approaches and partnership. “The experience in countries such as the Cook Islands and Samoa show that triangular and south-south cooperation can be effective, but above all it requires political leadership,” suggested Helen Clark.
Other panelists provided perspectives on the many dimensions of the Forum Compact, including the role of private sector, for example Australia’s partnership with Carnival cruise liners, the importance of infrastructure development supported by the Asian Development Bank, and the announcement of peer reviews of development partners by New Zealand.
The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, which is being held in Apia, Samoa, concludes today.