Elizabeth Wright-Koteka says the region has become a strategic hub as non-traditional partners are showing greater interest in enhanced engagements.
Wright-Koteka said this had shifted the way that aid was delivered in the Pacific.
In referring to New Zealand’s Pacific ‘reset’ and Australia’s ‘step up’, the high commissioner said: “It is because of the current geo-politics within our region that these new approaches on how countries are conducting business in the Pacific are so important; not necessarily in terms of economic ‘announceables’ or new infrastructure initiatives, but rather the intent and authenticity behind this renewed impetus.
“We are swimming in a sea of initiatives, policies and strategies, all intended to demonstrate concern for our countries well beings, but actions speaker louder than words. When countries actions do not match the rhetoric, one cannot help but question the authenticity of their intent.”
Wright-Koteka further highlighted that the Cook Islands graduation into a developed nation meant that the nation needed to reconsider traditional donor-recipient relationships.
“In this context, our own ‘reset’ began many years ago. We have also begun discussing what our relationships will look like with international post-graduation.”
“Whilst we welcome the opportunity to shift away from donor-recipient relationships to partnerships premised on mutual understanding, the reality of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) criteria is that vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters is not a factor that is taken into consideration when assessing a country’s development status,” Wright-Koteka said.