With four-days of reviewing technical and scientific programmes during the CRGA (Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations) meeting recently ending in Noumea, a recurring theme during discussions was sustainable development.
Amongst the delegates at the high-level conference being held at the headquarters of the Secretariat of the South Pacific Community (SPC) is His Excellency Mr Peter Eafare, the Papua New Guinea High Commissioner to Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru, who firmly believes that the way forward for Pacific Island Countries and Territories is through an integrated, regional approach to development.
Mr Eafare cited as an example of effective sub-regional cooperation the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) concerning cooperation in the management of fisheries of common interest, signed in 1982 by Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau and the Republic of Marshall Islands.
“As early as 2004, I advocated that a cost-benefit analysis needs to be done on the merits and demerits of a region- wide implementation process for sustainable development,” Mr Eafare said.
“In this way, we can clarify which agencies have the mandate to carry out programmes throughout the region, without stepping on each others’ toes. To a large extent, the implementation of programmes lies with the governments within the region, to ensure that at the national level, regional development plans impact our national development plans.
“Foreign Affairs departments need to coordinate with National Planning departments, because at the end of the day, many of these regional initiatives are related to the Paris Declaration of 2005 on Aid Effectiveness, and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“We need to factor these into our own medium-term development strategies, as we now have in place in Papua New Guinea’s Strategic Plan, to 2050. The global and the regional must filter down to the national level for effective implementation.”
The eight MDGs, adopted by the 193 UN member countries, and at least 23 non-governmental organisations, include the eradication of poverty and the development of a global partnership for development.
While Mr Eafare wholeheartedly supports these goals, he does suggest that attaining them by 2015 may be unrealistic for developing Pacific island Countries and Territories, and “would like our development partners to appreciate that levels of development differ from country to country.”
“SPC provides a catalyst, especially in the area of coastal fishing and conservation, and through the work of the SOPAC Division in seabed minerals and bathymetric surveys (or maps of the seabed), water and sanitation, and disaster risk reduction, for example.”
Mr Eafare sees the conference as a the opportunity for SPC, governments and development partners to ensure that all are “on track and aware of their mutual responsibilities, as well as the basis for further discussions, and a better understanding of and sensitivity to the national requirements of Pacific Island Countries and Territories in the pursuit of regional development goals".