Pacific islands move to strengthen ties with Asia

Challenges of the Pacific are met with declarations of support at UN meeting

The particular challenges of the Pacific island nations - the threat of climate change, vulnerability to natural disasters, and the high cost caused by small isolated area and population size – were presented to Asia-Pacific leaders at a critical United Nations regional meeting and were met with specific declarations of support from a number of member States.

The discussion was part of the 66th Commission session for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), taking place 13-19 May in the Republic of Korea . Ministers and senior officials from more than 60 countries across the Asia-Pacific region learned of priorities for development in the Pacific and the willingness of other ESCAP members to provide support and assistance.

The Special Body on Pacific Island Developing Countries focused on the review of the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation, the global agenda for addressing the particular vulnerabilities of small island developing States.

"An important role of this Special Body is to promote new policy options that will allow Pacific countries to maximize the benefits of regionalization and fair globalization and to take full advantage of the economic and social dynamism of the Asia-Pacific region," said Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.

Finance Ministers the Hon. Sela Molisa of Vanuatu and the Hon. Metia Lotoala of Tuvalu spoke on behalf of the Pacific. They expressed support for ESCAPs efforts to reorient Asia-Pacific economies toward low-carbon green growth and to maximize cooperation between the Pacific and Asia .

"This would promote inclusive and sustainable development as well as provide mutual benefit to both Pacific and Asian members of ESCAP", said Hon. Sela Molisa.

This week's proceedings are a precursor to the Ministerial Segment that will be held from 17 – 19 May where the focus will be on developing supportive financial systems and green growth for achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Prime Minister of Vanuatu, H.E. Mr. Edward Natapei, will make a speech during the opening ceremony on the situation in the Pacific. H.E. Mr Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, will also represent the Pacific in his address to the Ministerial Roundtable being held on Monday.

Background documents to the 66th ESCAP Commission Session are available on the ESCAP website at "http://www.unescap.org/66/".