The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom on the occasion of the Partners in the Blue Pacific Foreign Ministers Meeting September 22, 2023.
On September 22, 2023, Ministers and representatives of the Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) met with Pacific Ministers to listen, discuss, consult, and collectively shape a shared vision and agenda for the PBP. Representatives discussed the first tranche of PBP initiatives.
The PBP is an informal coordination mechanism, launched in June 2022, to bring new energy and resources to deliver practical, tangible results in support of Pacific priorities. PBP partners share optimism for the Pacific’s future and a commitment to get behind the aspiration of Pacific countries to meet the ambitions of the region including the Pacific Island Forum’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. Together and individually, our countries will continue to work to drive resources, improve coordination, and close gaps with the goal of supporting Pacific priorities.
Since the PBP was launched, progress has been made on several flagship programs as aligned with Pacific priorities outlined in the 2050 Strategy:
Pacific Humanitarian Warehousing Program: At last year’s Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction Meeting in Nadi, Pacific Ministers called for urgent action to improve regional resilience in the face of disaster risk and climate change. Reflecting the priority placed on disaster preparedness in the Nadi Declaration, the 2050 Strategy, and the Boe Declaration, the PBP together with France have committed USD $55 million to the Pacific Humanitarian Warehousing Program, a Pacific-led, multi-donor investment that will expand pre-positioned humanitarian and emergency supplies in 14 Pacific countries and Timor-Leste. These strategic reserves will enhance the Pacific’s crisis response in the critical first 48 hours and help them be better prepared for, and more resilient to, disasters.
Pacific Cyber Capacity and Coordination Conference, “P4C”: The 2050 Strategy and the Boe Declaration recognize the expanded concept of security to include cyber security as a regional priority and call for collective action to address cyber-crime and other growing cyber threats. The PBP worked together with Pacific partners to create the Pacific Cyber Capacity Building and Coordination Conference, or P4C, which will meet in early October in Nadi, Fiji. The P4C will bring together key stakeholders from across the Pacific to understand the region’s needs and discuss opportunities for cyber resilience in the Pacific. Together, we seek to pool and share tools, resources, and capacity building initiatives to help coordinate efforts and promote mutual goals in cyber resilience.
Pacific Fisheries and Oceans Science Research Vessel: Protecting the Blue Pacific Continent and its ocean resources is a critical priority in the 2050 Strategy. However, the climate crisis and its impacts such as ocean warming threaten these critical ocean resources. To support sustainable management of marine ecosystems, including the region’s tuna fisheries, PBP partners have committed to provide at least USD $22 million to support a Pacific-owned ocean and fisheries research vessel. Once fully funded, this vessel, to be owned and operated by the Pacific Community (SPC), will provide critical research for addressing climate change impacts on Pacific oceans and fisheries.
Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) Coordination: Fisheries provide more than $500 million per year in direct income to Pacific countries and territories but are under threat by IUU fishing. PBP partners are committed to working with Pacific countries, the Forum Fisheries Agency, and other regional organization partners to better coordinate combatting IUU fishing and MDA cooperation, building on the outcomes from the January workshop at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu. PBP partners are working to better align and deconflict MDA support to the region and meet Pacific needs, including through developing a catalogue of tools and training available to Pacific governments and regional organizations.
Pacific Climate Change Centre: Recognizing the existential threat climate change poses to the lives and livelihoods of people in the Pacific, we continue to explore opportunities to deepen PBP partners’ support to Pacific countries on climate change. This includes considering opportunities to expand support to the Pacific Climate Change Centre within the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) housed in Samoa, so that this center can provide cutting edge training and capacity building support to the region.
PBP partners will continue to listen and respond to feedback from Pacific Ministers and from across the region and be guided by Pacific priorities in support of Pacific regionalism. Partners recommitted to regular, enduring engagement and consultation with the Pacific Islands Forum and its members to ensure the PBP is working to deliver on Pacific priorities in alignment with existing regional architecture, especially as outlined in the forthcoming Implementation Plans for the 2050 Strategy. Partners welcomed Australia as the incoming chair of the PBP and thanked the United States for its past chairing. Partners decided to establish a troika system of chairship moving forward.
Attendees included representatives from Australia, Canada, Fiji, French Polynesia, Germany, Japan, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vanuatu, as well as France, India, the Pacific Islands Forum, the Pacific Community, and the European Union in their observing capacity.