A Solomon Islands Government Ministerial delegation led by Hon. Milner George Tozaka, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, attended the 1st High Level Pacific Blue Economy Conference held in Suva-Fiji on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th August 2017.
Other Ministers in the delegation included Hon. John Maneniaru, Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources, and Hon. Samuel Manetoali, Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology. Officials accompanying the Ministers include Mr. Rence Sore, Special Secretary to the Chair of PIDF, Mr. William Soaki, Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs and other senior government officials.
The Pacific Blue Economy Conference (PBEC) was convened by the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), bringing together leaders, speakers, and representatives from national governments, the scientific community, academic and educational institutions, the private sector and civil society organizations.
Deputizing for Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare as Chair to the Pacific Island Development Forum, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Hon. Milner Tozaka conveyed the connectivity of the Pacific people with the ocean iterating;
“All of us here share a common vision for a future where all Pacific island people enjoy spiritual, cultural, emotional and economic well-being through long term food security, enhanced livelihoods and resilience to a changing climate.”
Minister Tozaka asserted; “We all recognize that the Pacific Ocean and its marine and coastal resources offer an opportunity to derive significant and lasting wealth if we make the right investments towards its conservation and stewardship – and that with the appropriate economic and development strategies, we can fulfil our vision.”
Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Hon. John Maneniaru also took part as a keynote speaker to a panel session on ‘Blue growth and Ocean Governance- giving an account of Solomon Islands existing governance mechanisms and regional commitments towards a blue economy.
Minister Maneniaru stated; “The Blue Economy concept is a new concept, which is now increasingly realized to capture multi-sectorial and multi-scalar objectives of ocean governance with the ultimate aim for sustainable economic benefits with long-term ocean health”
Minister Maneniaru further affirmed Solomon Islands national processes in formulating the Ocean12 initiative, which started in 2015 during an inaugural inter-government Ocean Summit when 12 Ministries came together to collectively talk about an integrated approach to better manage and develop our ocean sustainability.
The two day conference based on the theme; Knowledge and Exchange platform towards a Blue Economy for the Pacific Islands, also covered other topical issues including; the SDG14 Blue Economy, Pacific perspectives on the blue economy, identifying key ocean industries with innovative approaches, Education and capacity building reforms, financing mechanisms, and discussions on developing a blue economy framework for the Pacific region.
The outcomes of the Pacific Blue Economy will assist PIDF member countries form the blueprint for the Pacific Islands Development Forum Strategic Plan on the blue economy to be approved by leaders in their next summit.
More importantly, it will form a collective contribution to the regional Sustainable Development Goal roadmap for SDG14 (Life under water), with special emphasis on target 14.7 to which the concept of the blue economy has been associated.