Regional response to protect the Pacific’s vulnerable
Port Vila – 12 February 2010 - The human face of the vulnerable in the Pacific could be a young girl in Tokelau straining her eyes to read her school books by the light of a kerosene lamp. Another human face of the vulnerable in the Pacific could be an elderly woman in Solomon Islands elated to have her own water tank to store clean drinking water. Yet another human face of the vulnerable could be a young boy from Kiribati who has been denied the appropriate medical treatment because there are no doctors at the hospital to attend to him.
Pacific Island ministers, development partners, non government organizations, women and youth groups and the private sector representatives kept these faces in mind as they deliberated for three days at the Pacific Conference on the Human Face of the Global Economic Crisis to identify short-term and long term actions to protect the vulnerable of the Pacific from the impact of the ongoing financial and economic crisis and potential future crises.
It is estimated that at least 6.44 million people in the Pacific are potentially vulnerable to the impacts of the global economic crisis. This comprises women, boys and girls under 15 years of age and people over 60 years of age, representing 67% percent of the population.
The conference was a follow up on the outcome of the 40th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting held in Cairns last year. The statement from the Pacific Conference on the Human Face of the Global Economic Crisis will be presented at the next Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting that will be held in Vanuatu in August this year.
“You cannot respond to a crisis until you know what is it that we need to respond to. This conference has led to a greater understanding of what it is happening and what needs to be done,” said Tuiloma Neroni Slade, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in closing the conference.
The conclusion of the meeting calls for strong leadership and good governance, gender equality, and sustainable inclusive economic growth and climate change to be factored into development programmes.
Tuiloma Slade said the conclusions refer to a broad range of issues that concern the people of the Pacific.
“The decision of this conference is to face the future collectively and with determination. The future of the Pacific is a future of infinite promise and I believe that we can provide worthwhile life to Pacific people.”
Tuiloma Slade said, “Crises produce opportunity and the opportunity of this conference has been extraordinary in the diversity in the past three days and exceptional in the range, contributions and discussions we have heard.”
“Children, your concerns have been noted right from the start. The future belongs to you.”
The conference also recognized that knowledge sharing among different countries in the Pacific region and with other parts of the world should continue. It also noted the important role that development partners need to play in donor co-ordination.
Outcomes from the Labour Minister’s meeting organized by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Mauritius Strategy meeting organized by the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) that preceded this conference have been reflected in the conference statement.
The conference was hosted by the Government of Vanuatu with support from the United Nations, Asian Development Bank, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the University of the South Pacific. Participants include government ministers, parliamentarians, development partners, UN agencies, youth, women’s groups, private sector representatives and civil society organizations.
Note: The Conference statement will be accessible from www.vanuatu2010.un.org.fj in a fortnight.
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