By Pita Ligaiula in Apia, Samoa

APIA 04 SEPTEMBER 2017 (PACNEWS) — “Implementing ‘The Blue Pacific’ will require a ‘whole of Forum’ commitment to the benefits of acting together as one Blue Continent.”

That is the message from incoming Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi when opening the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) and Pacific Islands Forum regional Media workshop in Apia at the weekend.

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“By the sheer fact of our geography, such as trends associated with shifts in the centres of global power, this places the Pacific at the centre of contemporary global geopolitics. Embracing this as a unique opportunity in the history of the region, The Blue Pacific provides a new narrative for Pacific regionalism and how the Forum engages with the world.

“This new narrative calls for inspired leadership by the Forum and a long-term commitment to the benefits of acting together as one Blue Continent, has the potential to define a Blue Pacific economy, ensures a sustainable, secure, resilient and peaceful Blue Pacific as well as strengthens Blue Pacific Diplomacy to protect the value of our Ocean and peoples,” Tuilaepa told regional and local journalists.

He said implementing The Blue Pacific will require a ‘whole of Forum’ commitment to the benefits of acting together as one Blue Continent.

“Above all else, it will require a different way of working together that prioritises The Blue Pacific as the core driver of Forum policy making and collective action. The Forum political dialogue needs to be informed by The Blue Pacific which in turn supports Forum actions in a manner that empowers the region.

“For the Pacific region and its island countries, the ocean is crucial.

“Exercising a sense of common identity and purpose linked to the ocean has been critical for protecting and promoting the potential of our shared Pacific Ocean. It is this commonality of the fundamental essence of the region which has the potential to empower the region through collective and combined agendas and actions,” said Tuilaepa.

He explained The Blue Pacific will strengthen the existing policy frameworks that harness the ocean as a driver of a transformative socio-cultural, political and economic development of the Pacific.

“This approach also gives renewed impetus to deepening Pacific regionalism.

“The Framework for Pacific Regionalism, endorsed by Leaders in 2014, state, “Pacific peoples are the custodians of the world’s largest, most peaceful and abundant ocean, its many islands and its rich diversity of cultures”. This resonates with the Blue Pacific concept of recapturing the collective potential of our shared stewardship of the Pacific Ocean, based on a shared geography, ocean identity and resources.

“Putting The Blue Pacific at the centre of regional policy making strengthens collective action to advance the Forum Leaders’ Vision for the Region,” said Tuilaepa……PACNEWS [/restrict]