The new Chair of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare of Solomon Islands has called on all delegates at the 4th PIDF Leaders’ Summit to make maximum use of the meeting to make decisions that will save the ocean for the good of their countries.
He made the call at the summit opening ceremony at the Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara this morning.
“Our two-day deliberation on this theme is watched by the peoples and governments that we represent in the region so I therefore urge all of you to make maximum use of the opportunity that we now have to save our ocean for the good of our peoples and thegovernments and countries that we represent.”
The PIDF Chair and Solomon Islands Prime Minister said it is an honour for Solomon Islands to host the summit for the first time and be the first nation to host the annual two-day event apart from Fiji- the home of PIDF.
“It is indeed an honour to host the event in Solomon Islands and Iam glad to say that it is not the first time that we hold a regional high-level meeting of this nature but this one is special to us.
“I say it is special because it is the first time for the PIDF Leaders’ Summit to move out of its home base (Fiji).”
Turning to the theme of the event, the PIDF Chair said this year’s summit focuses on the theme of ‘Stewardship for Healthy Oceans and Healthy Nations.’
“This theme recognises the fact that the health, wealth, history, culture and identity of the peoples’ of the Pacific Islands are vast and diverse.
“This theme underpins the role oceans play to the biological diversity of our people. It reinforces the fact that the geographical vastness of our oceans is immeasurable.
“We cannot deny the fact that we are the oceans people. We live by the ocean and we are big ocean states.
“Furthermore, we can easily co-relate the aspirations of the (United Nations) Sustainable Development Goals to the health and welfare of the ocean that we share amongst us.
“Oceans cover approximately 70.8 percent or 361 million square kilometers of the earth’s surface with a volume of about 1,370 million cubic kilometres. The oceans contain 97 percent of our planets available water. In our Pacific region, we can say that careful management of our ocean is key to our sustainable future,” he added.
He further added that the theme of Stewardship for Healthy Oceans and Healthy Nations is also meant to stimulate the intellectual thinking capacities of leaders present at the summit. “Let us have this intellectual stimulation to save the health of our ocean and safeguard the identity of our nations.
“That said, On behalf of every Solomon Islander, I applaud your stewardship for healthy ocean and healthy nations.
The PIDF Chair and Solomon Islands Prime Minister said the summit is made even more significant by the presence of PIDF’s Charter Members, Foundational Members and Technical Partners as well as regional and international organisations.
“In this regard, amongst others, I would like to acknowledge the presence of representatives of the state of Kuwait, People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Timor Leste, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Pakistan, United States of America, Pitcairn Islands and the (French) Territory of Wallis and Futuna.”
The PIDF Chair and Solomon Islands Prime Minister also acknowledged the participation of Solomon Islands nongovernment organisations, civil society groups, Solomon Games’ Participating teams, youth groups and students from schools around Honiara in the opening ceremony.
“The diversity at this stadium is the very nature that makes the PIDF different from other organisations. This is the unique system of the PIDF that we now cherish and shall preserve in the long run.
“On top of this uniqueness, the PIDF also favours gender, social mix and plural thinking as the basis of a new equality in the format of a tripod.”