Opening Statement at the 13th Conference of the Pacific Community By Hon. Panapasi Nelesone, Minister for Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs, Tuvalu


Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia, Deputy Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Honourable Delegates, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Partners, ladies and gentlemen

Talofa and warm greetings.

I begin this address with a heartfelt apology from the Government and the People of Tuvalu, for our inability to physically host this significant event in Tuvalu. It is with deep disappointment and a sense of responsibility that I address you today, as we had eagerly anticipated the opportunity to gather you all on our beautiful shores and discuss matters of utmost importance. However, I want to assure you that even though we cannot gather on Tuvaluan soil as originally planned, a bit of Tuvalu will be showcased right here in Noumea. Despite the challenges, we remain committed to providing you with a meaningful and enriching experience of what we call our home and to show how science and actions we are taking against the existential threat we all have on our hands - the climate emergency.

Now, I join the outgoing Chair of Conference, Deputy Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Hon. Matai Seremaiah to welcome you to the 13th Conference of the Pacific Community and I am honored to join you all on the occasion of Opening ceremony of the 13th Conference of the Pacific Community as Chair

This occasion holds immense significance as it brings together the nations and stakeholders of the Pacific region to discuss and address the pressing challenges and opportunities that define our shared future. It is a testament to our shared commitment to the ideals and values that underpin the Pacific Community.

The Pacific Community, stands as a beacon of collaboration and unity, transcending geographical borders and celebrating the rich cultural diversity that characterizes the Pacific. For over 75 years, the SPC has played a pivotal role in supporting and strengthening our region’s capacity to address a wide spectrum of issues, from sustainable development and climate change to health, education, gender equality and economic growth.

In a world increasingly interconnected, the Pacific Community offers us the platform to share knowledge, pool resources, and find innovative solutions to the unique and complex challenges faced by our member countries. The strength of this organization lies in its people – dedicated professionals, policymakers, and visionaries, all working tirelessly to ensure a better future for the people of the Pacific.

This year’s theme – nexus of climate change and digital transformation is of paramount importance to our region because of its vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events. Embracing digital technologies allows Pacific nations to enhance their resilience, adaptability and sustainability developments in the face of these pressing environmental challenges, safeguarding the well-being of their communities and unique island cultures. Tuvalu’s groundbreaking digital nation project, a pioneering effort, seeking to preserve its culture and heritage while transitioning its government into the metaverse, simultaneously addressing climate threats and enhancing data management for informed decision making.

The SPC and Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) are collectively collaborating to harness the synergy between climate change and digital transformation. This partnership involves employing satellite technology, advanced data visualization, physical models for disaster preparedness, and the transition from paper-based data collection to digital methods. Examples of this collaborative effort include Early Warning Systems for storm surges in low-lying communities, tactile models to illustrate the impact of sea-level rise, and the use of digital tools to monitor and understand environmental changes in real-time. These initiatives underscore the significance of digital innovation in mitigating climate-related risks and ensuring the resilience of Pacific communities.

Our presence here today underscores the vital importance of collaboration and cooperation in addressing the complex and interconnected issues facing our nations. From sustainable development and climate change adaptation to regional security and economic growth, the challenges before us are multifaceted, and they do not recognize borders.

I would like to emphasise the unwavering commitment of SPC to the well-being and prosperity of the Pacific region. We understand that our destinies are intertwined, and it is only through concerted effort and shared vision that we can navigate these challenges successfully.  The SPC is OUR organisation, a true testament to Pacific solidarity and regionalism in the science, technical and development sphere.

Over the course of this conference, I encourage each of you to engage in meaningful dialogues, share your insights, and work together to craft innovative solutions that respect the diversity of our region while promoting collective advancement. Let this gathering serve as a platform for the exchange of knowledge and the forging of partnerships that will help us achieve our common goals.

Let us not forget that our actions today will share the legacy we leave for future generations. Let us be guided by the concept of ‘kaitasi’, referring to shared ownership. This idea provides an approach for dealing with today’s global society, where people are viewed as sharing ownership and responsibility for global resources and problems. It is important to be guided by principle of unity, sustainability and inclusivity. Together, we can turn the tide in favor of a more prosperous, secure, and resilient Blue Pacific region.

In closing, I wish to express my gratitude to the Director General of SPC Dr. Stuart Minchin, and his dedicated staff for their support and tireless effort in bringing us together this week. When I met the Director General earlier in the week, he reminded me that this is our home away from home and indeed it does feel like this. Thank you, DG, and SPC staff. I would like to acknowledge and thank the Government of Australia for their generous support in funding the participation of our youth, allowing them to showcase our rich culture and contribute to shaping a brighter, more inclusive future. To the host nation of, New Caledonia, I also extend my gratitude to the Government of New Caledonia for warm welcome and protocol accorded.  Distinguished participants thank you for your dedication and unwavering commitment to the noble cause. May this conference be marked by productive deliberations, lasting connections, and a shared sense of purpose for the common good of our Pacific region.

Merci Beaucoup, Thank you and Fakafetai lasi.

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