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Wednesday 8 November 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in 52nd Pacific Islands Forum 2023, National


Funding challenges  discussed at Smaller  Island States meet
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown with President of French Polynesia - Moetai Brotherson. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 23116062

Prime Minister Mark Brown highlighted the challenges faced by the Cook Islands in applying for funding or accessing funding through borrowing due to the country’s high-income status.

Brown, who is chairing the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in Rarotonga this week, also chaired the Smaller Island States (SIS) meeting on Monday.

He said the issue of accessing funds by some of the countries with the high-income status was discussed at the SIS meeting.

Brown explained that this was a concern raised by some leaders.

“For countries like the Cook Islands, which have graduated status, accessing certain forms of concessional financing is no longer available to us,” he stated.

“One of the key takeaways from the Smaller Island States meeting was the recognition of the difficulties associated with accessing financing through mechanisms like the Samoa Agreement or through borrowing. These are challenges that we have made our voices known on, and we will wait and see how they will be addressed.”

Meanwhile, Brown confirmed at a press conference yesterday that the leaders have selected five senior ministers from the Pacific to represent the region as climate champions at the COP28 meeting in Dubai.

“This will be important to us in terms of advocating for climate change action at the COP meeting,” he emphasised.

He acknowledged the support of Australia for supporting the Pacific climate champions’ attendance at COP28, along with the provision of staff to assist the leaders at the crucial event.

When asked about the Polynesian bloc’s call to pause the release of Fukushima treated wastewater, Brown responded that “Fukushima will be on the agenda for discussion at either the plenary meeting or retreat.”

The Polynesian bloc’s decision was made at the Polynesian Leaders Group meeting – attended by Brown – on Monday.

President of French Polynesia Moetai Brotherson, who chaired the meeting, stated that they had a shared position against the release of the wastewater into the Pacific.

“We would have rather had the discussions taking place here at the Forum before Japan took its decision, but this was not the case unfortunately,” he told Cook Islands News on Monday.

“We are going to speak as a group during the Forum on this issue and say that we would prefer these waters not to be released in the Pacific Ocean.”