Puna aims to keep the Pacific Forum together
Former Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Henry Puna, began his new role as Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum with a focus on the Forum family.
Henry Puna says he comes to this position with an open mind, confidence in his team and an emphatic focus on the Forum family and the values of regionalism.
Secretary-General Puna, who is waiting in Auckland for the green light to travel to Covid-stricken Fiji, said: “Our Pacific Blue Continent is at its best and peak when our member countries work together as a family, and we must continue to do so. whatever we can to protect this force ”.
Noting the ongoing high-level political dialogue with the Micronesia Presidents’ Summit on the notice of withdrawal from the Forum, SG Puna said that a process of political dialogue is underway “and is symbolic of our peaceful manner of talanoa. and amicable resolution of disputes ”.
“Let’s wait for the outcome of this process. As the Forum Secretariat, we will continue to serve all Members and I look forward to this continued engagement within our Forum family. “
Five Micronesian members have decided to leave the Forum following the selection of Puna who won the post earlier this year.
Leaders from Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Palau have collectively expressed disappointment with the nomination process, which overlooked Micronesian candidate Gerald Zackios.
SG Puna said: “It’s about taking care of each other and supporting each other when challenges arise. If we succeed, we all succeed, and if we fail, it is a shared failure. I pledge to work with all our member nations to work to strengthen the solidarity of our Forum family. “
As Secretary General of the Forum, Puna will serve as Commissioner for the Pacific Ocean, noting that “the future of our oceans and the work on ocean governance are of particular interest to me. The member countries of our Forum share a common border, our blue Pacific Ocean, and we are the stewards of its health, security and sustainability. This responsibility I take very seriously ”.
The Forum Secretary General is also the Permanent Chairman of the Council of Regional Organizations in the Pacific (CROP), a role entrusted to the Secretary General by Forum leaders since 1995.
SG Puna reaffirmed the importance of maintaining strong collective efforts to advance regional priorities, including the development of the 2050 strategy for the Blue Continent, Covid-19, climate change, fisheries, maritime borders, nuclear legacy issues, and to continue to collaborate with members and partners. for the global launch of the Pacific Resilience Facility later this year.
He paid tribute to the Forum’s former secretary general, Dame Meg Taylor, who will return to Papua New Guinea after international travel resumes.
“I must honor the progress that my predecessor Dame Meg Taylor made in her time at the helm, and through the pandemic,” said SG Puna, “her contribution and achievements during her tenure have my utmost respect and testify to his passion for the founding values of the Pacific Islands Forum. “
He also called for a moment of reflection and solidarity through the Pacific Islands Forum for the people of Samoa, where post-election events make global headlines.
“The Forum family is closely following developments on the ground in Samoa and encourages all parties to seek peaceful means to resolve their difficulties. The Forum is also ready to offer support and assistance upon request. “I ask each of us, across our Member countries, to keep the Samoan people in our thoughts and prayers at this time, knowing that Samoa’s sovereign process and world renown Fa’a Samoa will prevail at this critical time of their story.”