By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Yokohama
YOKOHAMA, 08 MAY 2017 (PACNEWS) — The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor is encouraged by the solidarity of Pacific countries at international forums, when pursuing their interests.
This was evident at the just concluded 50th Annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Yokohama last week.
Dame Meg attended the weeklong meeting and shared her observations with PACNEWS. She said most of the issues raised by ADB Governors from the 14 Pacific Developing Member Countries (PMDCs) has ‘given PIFS some food for thought on what we will be working on this year.’
“Listening to our Governors in the preparatory meeting and their meeting with the President of the ADB, it was heartening to see how they have pulled together and identified issues that are really affecting them. We can build on that momentum especially on thematic issues like climate change, oceans etc.
“I am positive about it. In my two years I can see countries coming together on issues we need to prioritise. I am optimistic with the conversations that the finance ministers have had here in Yokohama. I am encouraged to see Pacific countries pulling together on these issues, said Dame Meg.
On the partnership between the ADB and PMDCs, Dame Meg has one suggestion – Pacific countries should ensure that technical assistance must come with human resource capacity for our people.
“We have to be much more proactive in saying to ADB what we want to ensure the technical assistance given has long term benefit and that it has capacity in the region that can carry on the work. We’ve got to invest in our people to be able to manage these investments.
“We can build roads, bridges, airports etc. but we need the capacity in the region to manage all this. This is where our governments need to be more assertive with the development t partners but also from the regional level when it comes to the broader issues of what affects us like climate change financing, resilience amongst others, observed Dame Meg.
On Fiji hosting the 2019 ADB annual conference, the PIFS Secretary General welcomed the decision of ADB Governors to bring its meeting to the Pacific.
“We can come together as a region and show the world and the rest of Asia that we are proud of our culture and our region. We have formidable issues that we have to overcome, particularly in terms of climate change impacts, issues around climate insurance, adaptation fund and insuring our own recovery, when we are impacted by climate disaster.
However the biggest disappointment for a number of PDMCs is the delay in the disbursement of climate funding.
“A number of climate adaptation and mitigation projects have been approved in the region but funds have not been disbursed. Decisions have been made but the funds have not been delivered.
“As countries wait, especially small island countries, the cost increases all the time. We’ve got to look at what options are available for our people. In the recent finance ministers meeting, ministers considered a regional financing facility put forward by PIFS. We should do more work on that and carry out consultations before coming back to the ministers for their endorsement.
The 14 PMDCs are also members of the Pacific Islands Forum… PACNEWS [/restrict]