23rd April, 2013
Around 100 Parliamentarians and Political Leaders from 18 Pacific countries and territories, including New Zealand, assembled in Wellington from 18-22 April for the first Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum. Regional leadership, democracy, climate change, health issues, gender equality, media and the importance of parliaments to communities, business development and job creation were among the key issues that were debated.
A thematic debate on Pacific issues was held by New Zealand members of Parliament in the New Zealand House of Representatives. The motion, agreed to was:
That the House note the Pacific Parliamentary Forum being held this week at Parliament and that it acknowledge the needs and aspiration of all Pacific peoples, and the contribution that New Zealand can make as an integral part of the Pacific region, to enhance its relationship with all Pacific people.
Participants in the Forum agreed to report to their parliaments and communities on their discussions and conclusions. In particular they would:
- Take steps to increase Pacific women’s representation in Parliaments and to empower them to be active in all aspects of society, including governance and business.
- Adopt strategies to meet the challenges arising from climate change, involving urgent and effective action in mitigation, adaptation and financing including placing a higher reliance on renewable energy.
- Foster a free, professional and independent media to promote democracy and an open and transparent society. Media has and continues to have an important role to play in ensuring political accountability. Participants remarked on the rise of social media in the Pacific and its utility as a communication tool, particularly in remote communities.
- Promote effective leadership and creative engagement between parliaments and the communities they represent.
- Explore ways to improve the delivery and creation of services in small, isolated communities, including through better infrastructure and information technology.
- Prioritise primary healthcare, health promotion and disease prevention. Work to educate their communities on the importance of healthy lifestyles and to raise awareness about reproductive and sexual health. Ensure cost effectiveness and good management to sustain affordability of healthcare.
- Improve and promote economic conditions to facilitate trade and investment in a manner that ensures sustainable development in the interests of the Pacific while still retaining cultural identity and sovereignty.
- Acknowledge that sound governance from our Parliaments is essential to expand sustainable businesses and to create jobs, especially for young people.
Pacific countries should join forces to ensure a strong, unified Pacific voice on the international stage.
Participants were encouraged to continue discussions on these issues within their own communities, local media and other stakeholders, including – as appropriate – presenting this outcome document to their own Parliaments.
Forum participants called for further consideration on how the Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum could be taken forward.
As a result of the success of this Forum, participants of the Forum recommend:
- Support for holding further Forums.
- Maintaining a focus on younger and new leaders and working towards gender balance.
- New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, in partnership with Pacific parliamentarians and political leaders, explore options for funding for future Forums.
- New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, on behalf of all present, explore the possibility of establishing a virtual Forum to allow ongoing dialogue.
Pacific parliamentarians and political leaders report back to such a Forum on progress and achievements on this outcome document
The motions agreed to by the Forum are appended as Appendix 1.
Of the leadership taken by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee of the New Zealand Parliament to hold this Forum.
The support of the Pacific Island members of the New Zealand Parliament for this Forum and their advocacy on issues affecting Pacific Island peoples living in New Zealand and in the Pacific region.
Appendix 1: Motions agreed
That steps be taken in all of our countries to lift the status of women in the Pacific to empower them to be active participants in economic, political and social life – we should promote the equality of opportunity for all people in the Pacific region.
Climate change and environment
That given the challenges Pacific Island countries and especially atoll states face regarding climate change, all countries must adopt strategies to meet the challenges expected to arise from global warming. We acknowledge the importance of reducing imported energy and placing higher reliance on sustainable energy production, for example, solar power generation.
The importance of a free and open media to our Parliaments
That members note that the information technology revolution is penetrating the remotest corners of the Pacific and presents opportunities and challenges – it should be used to promote democracy and the value of a free and open media, and to advance public debate and political accountability.
The importance of parliament to local communities
ments to local cThat because Parliaments have a key role in supporting the economic and social development of Pacific Island communities, Pacific Island countries take steps to promote stronger engagement and participation as a norm between parliaments and the communities that politicians and community leaders represent.
Problems of isolation and delivery of services to remote communities
That we acknowledge the vast scope for improving the delivery and the creation of services to small isolated communities, but acknowledge that the internet, phone, scientific advances and regional transport could be better used to help remote communities overcome difficult challenges they may be facing.
That given the rapid increase in the proportion of our national budgets being consumed in the treatment of preventable diseases, that Pacific Governments educate their people to encourage change in their lifestyles so that quality health care especially for communicable, non-communicable, and reproductive and sexual health can be afforded.
Global economic outlook
That given our countries’ vulnerability to shifts in the global economy, we should take steps to respond to new technology and develop our economy, trade and investment in a manner that ensures sustainable development for Pacific peoples; while still retaining cultural identity and sovereignty.
The role of sound governance in business development and job creation
That sound governance from our Parliaments is essential to expand sustainable businesses and to create jobs for our young people. We acknowledge the need for balance between the size of our economies, the cost of our political structures, and the size of the public sector.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013