PIANGO successfully conducted a Sub-Regional Meeting in Nadi on the 16th – 18th of June where the Melanesian and Polynesian networks came together to a round table. Addressing the Meeting, PIANGO’s Executive Director, Ms Emele Duituturaga told the CSO leaders and youths that PIANGO has embarked on a programme titled “Rethinking Development, Reshaping the Pacific we Want.” She said that the Pacific region has evolved from small island tribal villages with diverse cultures, to nation states located in the world’s largest resource-rich and abundant ocean which has not escaped modernisation and globalisation bringing about development and opportunities.
Some of these developments however have threatened Pacific families and communities, weakening community bonds and values and affecting people’s ability to live off the land and the sea and to harmonise their existence with their natural environment. She said that the Pacific has become a region vied for its natural resources and strategic security location and Pacific regionalism is at a cross roads.
Civil society and Pacific Islanders are now facing many pressing challenges, Ms Duituturaga said, ranging from large-scale exploitation of resources to environmental damages and the effects of climate change; from growing poverty to increasing violence and conflicts; from neglect of rural development to governance issues such as corruption, mismanagement and lack of transparency.
She said an initial PIANGO meeting in December 2012, reaffirmed the need to rethink development in the Pacific Islands with emerging themes evolving around: climate change, reviewing what is considered the Pacific Way; rethinking the role and contribution of Civil Society as development actors; rethinking regionalism given the Pacific Plan review by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders; and taking stock of Pacific expertise to shape the rethinking and reshaping the Pacific that people want. She emphasised CSOs important role and ability to reshape the region’s agenda and hence their invitation by PIANGO to the Roundtable Meeting in Nadi to provide them with the opportunity and space to rethink the Pacific they want.
Ms Duituturaga said that in earlier PIANGO meetings Pacific CSOs have agreed that PIANGO needs to create space to think and reflect, taking advantage of opportunities to influence the re-engineering of regional architecture and Pacific regionalism. “The Pacific is home to us all and Pacific CSOs can reshape the region’s agenda and must not give up this space that everyone calls – Home,’ the PIANGO Executive Director said.
Ms Duituturaga said that PIANGO’s new programme involves a structured process that will create space so that CSO leaders can step back and reflect on lessons they have individually and collectively learned about their societies, the governance of their nations, their relations to government and donors, their own organisations, their styles of leadership and management, the tensions between change and tradition and linkages between working at local, national, regional and global levels.
The programme will also involve engaging local expertise through a ‘think tank’ where Pacific experts and thinkers are able to conceptualise and translate policies to enhance participation at local level for a genuine Pacific future. This will be a broad based alliance of civil society groups with a strong interest in regional matters including churches, NGOs, academics, to stimulate, enable and support dialogue, build capacity, create competence, transformation, reconciliation and region-building.
“A key issue is how current CSO leaders can share and pass their knowledge, experience and wisdom to the next generation of CSO leaders to ensure a transition with no gaps or leadership deficit that enables the sector to grow from strength to strength and our vision of the Pacific we want is fulfilled.”
Participants at the Sub Regional Meeting in Nadi, June 2014
Amongst the items that were discussed was the Beyond 2015 campaign that PIANGO is a regional coordinator for; involves lobbying with national governments on a cross thematic framework of values and targets to influence the goals of the post-2105 MDGs. Through the meeting, sub-regions were caucused into discussions on these values and targets and the immediate recommendation of a working group with the sub-regions was formulated to advance the sub-regional approach to this campaign.
The Melanesian Caucus Group at the Sub-Regional Meeting, Nadi, June 2014
Also tabled at the meeting was PIANGO’s association to the CPDE Framework and how this could be incorporated into its structure. The meeting also brought together a pool of Pacific expertise that PIANGO aims to utilise as a ‘think tank’ for the regional work and in particular the capacity needs of the network.
Preceding the meeting was PIANGO’s board meeting which endorsed the position of Communications Coordinator as a core position of the secretariat and the confirmation of full time positions for the Finance and Admin Officer, the Programmes Assistant and Youth Desk Coordinator.