More than 200 participants from over 25 countries, including High Level Representatives from 13 Pacific Islands Countries convened in Nadi for the Fifth Pacific Urban Forum (PUF5). The three day meeting focused on the theme ‘Accelerating implementation of the New Urban Agenda to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the Pacific’. PUF5 concluded with a call for action and on deployment of all efforts, means and resources available towards the implementation of the “New Urban Agenda for the Pacific”.
The event kicked off with the opening remarks from the host, represented by Hon. Premila Kumar, Minister of Industry, Trade, Tourism; Local Government; and Housing and Community Development. In the following session, Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), highlighted the need for a regional approach to urbanization:
If we act with foresight and get our responses to these challenges right, urbanization can become a powerful force for the sustainable development of our Pacific countries.
On the second day of the Forum, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama stressed in his keynote speech the need for more sustainable urban development to tackle inequality and climate vulnerability.
And the impact of our actions, the boldness of our decisions and the strength of our cooperation of this forum and beyond will determine whether those urban centres emerge as engines of sustainable development, or bastions of inequity and climate vulnerability.
The meeting produced an action plan including commitments with regards to the four pillars of PUF5, ‘Social Equity’, ‘Environment, Resilience and Urbanization’, ‘Urban Economy’ and ‘Urban Governance’. All stakeholder groups and country representatives recognized the importance of urbanization for sustainable development and agreed on long-term national planning for urbanization through national sustainable development plans, urban policies and sector plans to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Pacific, in particular to support sustainable cities and communities and the New Urban Agenda. Furthermore, PUF5 provided contributions and inputs to global and regional platforms for sustainable urbanization and a roadmap towards upcoming stakeholder meetings such as the Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting in August, the Seventh Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF7), the Tenth World Urban Forum (WUF10) and the UN ESCAP Commission in May in Thailand.
During the closing, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Hon. Enele Sosana Sopoaga committed to support the successful political anchoring of the Pacific New Urban Agenda:
“As incoming Chairman of the PIF, I will be happy to place in the PIF Leaders’ discussions the outcomes of this [Pacific Urban] Forum, if so decided by the Forum here. I also encourage the outcomes to be taken to the broader region at the 7th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum hosted in Penang, Malaysia this October and the 10th World Urban Forum convening in February next year in Abu Dhabi.”
The Fifth Pacific Urban Forum was hosted by the Government of Fiji and supported and co-organized by a range of partners, including UN-Habitat, Commonwealth Local Government Forum, Monash University, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and Compass Housing Services.
PUF5 was attended by different stakeholder groups such as local and national government officials, relevant regional organi¬zations (CROPs), non-gov¬ernmental organizations, community-based organizations, traditional leaders, professionals, research institutions and academies, private sector, relevant development partners and financial institutions as well as media representatives. Official Representatives from following Pacific Islands countries and territories attended the Fifth Pacific Urban Forum: Australia, Fiji, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu. Among these country representatives were six ministers.
Moreover, two important partnerships resulted as an additional outcome of the meeting. First, a plan to develop affordable housing for low and middle- income families in Port Moresby was signed between the Government of Papua New Guinea and the International Finance Cooperation (IFC). Second, the Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Human Settlements (EAROPH) International, EAROPH Australia, the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) and the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) agreed on a stronger collaboration to achieve sustainable development in the region. The Forum therefore strengthened the exchange and dialogue within the Pacific among various urban stakeholders.
The three days meeting included plenary sessions and special session around the main themes ‘Governance and Data’, ‘Urban Resilience and Climate Change’, ‘Informal Settlements, Land and Planning’ and ‘Urban Economic Development’. Additionally, side events and a field visit to two settlements were organized.
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