Suva, Fiji (17 February, 2014) – Pacific people have been challenged to place their cultural values and traditions at the forefront of development models in order to create a meaningful platform suited to the needs of Pacific nations and their peoples.
Reverend Francois Pihaatae, Secretary General of the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), in delivering the keynote address at a regional meeting on rethinking development, also emphasised that development must be owned and driven by local communities.
“The opportunity is now before us to make choices that are culturally sensitive, people centered and ecologically sustainable. Already there is evidence of such models working in our Pacific communities. Let us work together to document and publicise them. Let us forge new strategies and invent new rules and procedures which will strengthen the governance and governability of development plans and strategies at all levels,” Rev. Pihaatae said.
The regional roundtable meeting, which has as its theme “Rethinking Development, Reshaping the Pacific We Want” is organised by the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations (PIANGO). It is designed to discuss emerging themes from previous dialogues and to anchor discussions around the process for the next 18 months.
Over the past year, three key themes have consistently emerged through this process. These focus on spirituality and religion; the Pacific identity and resilient development.
The roundtable initiative follows recommendations by Pacific CSO leaders on the need to create space to think and reflect, while taking advantage of opportunities to influence the re-engineering of regional architecture and Pacific regionalism.
This is a process of rethinking, reflecting and reasserting the foundations to further strengthen civil society to make a game changing contribution to development in the Pacific Islands region, the place we call “Home.”
“We see that the Pacific is crowded and contested – but this is our home and we believe that Pacific CSOs can reshape the Pacific agenda. The Pacific is our home, and we must not give up this space,” said PIANGO’s Executive Director, Ms Emele Duituturaga.
“An initial meeting in December 2012 reaffirmed the need to rethink development in the Pacific Islands. The emerging themes evolved around climate change being a trigger for rethinking; reviewing what is considered the “Pacific Way”; rethinking the role and contribution of civil society as development actors in our own right; rethinking regionalism given the Pacific Plan review by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders and taking stock of Pacific expertise to shape rethinking, redefining and reshaping the Pacific we want.”
A key issue emerging from the roundtable meeting and throughout the “rethinking process” is how current CSO leaders can share and pass on their knowledge, experience and wisdom to nurture the next generation of leaders via an effective, seamless transition process.