I am pleased to welcome you to this second meeting of the United Nations and Pacific Islands Forum Leaders.
I would like to thank the Cook Islands for hosting our first-ever meeting here last year. I congratulate the Marshall Islands on assuming the Chairmanship earlier this month and on the successful Forum Leaders meeting in Majuro.
I was honoured to be the first UN Secretary-General to attend the Pacific Island Forum in Auckland two years ago and am committed to ensuring that our bonds continue to grow.
Indeed, the Forum and the United Nations are becoming closer partners, including through the implementation of the ‘Auckland Joint Statement’ of 2011 and another Joint Statement adopted a year ago in New York.
This meeting is particularly timely, as there are many important events on the horizon that could have a significant impact on the Pacific region.
I am deeply grateful to Samoa for agreeing to host the International Conference on Small Islands Developing States in September 2014. I commend your proposal to make partnership the focus.
Now that we are entering a new phase in Conference preparations, we must focus on ensuring an innovative, transformative and action-oriented outcome.
Your continued engagement on the post-2015 development process is also vital.
Climate change is the greatest single threat to our sustainable development agenda and to our long-term security. Pacific Islands are among those that contribute least to global warming, yet suffer most.
I congratulate you on the adoption of the Majuro Declaration on Climate Leadership. It recognizes pressing challenges and needs. I commend your resolve to be “Climate Leaders” and your commitment to act – and I join you in your call to others.
As you know, climate change is a top priority for me and for the UN system. We need to secure a universal, ambitious and binding climate agreement in 2015, and I believe we can achieve this goal together. I count on you, Climate Leaders, to help show the way.
Next September, I will host a Climate Summit to provide a platform for leaders – and I invite all of you to attend. Together, we must all work to raise political will and action for an ambitious, global, legal agreement that sets the world on a less than 2-degree Celsius path. I look forward to the commitments to climate action that your Governments and others will bring to this important gathering.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Pacific region is changing rapidly. The United Nations is very aware of the shifting geo-political dynamics and the increasing involvement of Pacific countries in regional and global issues.
We are expecting important transitions over the coming period with elections next year in many of your countries -- including Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tonga -- and a critical referendum between 2015 and 2020 in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.
In the Solomon Islands, the draw-down of the Regional Assistance Mission, or RAMSI, continues.
The UN system stands ready to work in partnership with your Governments on all of these important transitions.
Maintaining peace and security, and upholding human rights and the rule of law are vital for ensuring durable progress in the region.
The United Nations remains committed to continue working with you to increase your capacity to address these issues and to achieve your governance and development goals.
We must work to align our priorities and objectives. In this regard, we look forward to further continuing to strengthen our partnership with the PIF under the leadership of the Marshall Islands.
I now welcome your views.