Suva, Fiji, 14 September 2023 - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) Director of the Pacific and Regional Affairs Division (PRAD) Antonina Browne chaired Monday’s Smaller Island States Officials (SIS) meeting, which convened at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, with High Commissioner to Fiji, His Excellency Jim Armistead speaking for the Cook Islands from the flag.
SIS Officials directed the development of a comprehensive SIS Work Programme by the Secretariat in consultation with Members, aligned with the 2050 Implementation Plan for consideration no later than December 2023.
SIS Leaders will meet in Rarotonga on Monday, 6 November 2023 during the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting, where it is expected they will give further direction to the regional collective actions for support by the Secretariat and partners in the years ahead.
In 1991, the then South Pacific Forum recognised the special development needs of the Smaller Island States and in January 1992, the Inaugural Summit of the Smaller Island State Leaders was held in Rarotonga. The SIS of the Pacific Islands Forum represent the most vulnerable of Forum Island Countries and its membership comprises the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu.
Against a background of ‘unique and particular’ vulnerabilities linked to small size, limited natural resources, and remoteness, SIS face a range of development challenges that limit their capacity to ensure resilience and long-term sustainable development.
“The Cook Islands has long recognised the particular vulnerabilities confronting members of the SIS, but also the resilient and community-centered approaches to complex development challenges our SIS communities continue to innovate,” said MFAI Secretary Tepaeru Herrmann.
“In our current role as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and thereby, Chair of the SIS, the Cook Islands will continue to work closely with SIS members and the wider Forum membership to ensure we integrate into our 2050 Implementation Plan recognition of the unique vulnerabilities and more importantly the resources we mobilise and avail to SIS members to take transformative action at national level to overcome those vulnerabilities, in the interests of our vulnerable communities. The "Niue test" should be a cornerstone of our regional collective actions – that it must deliver for Niue – Niue being representative of our SIS members."