Pacific Islands Forum SG Henry Puna after his retirement speech in Parliament. BYRON BROWN/21032315
Former Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna has started his new role as the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum with focus on the Forum family.
Puna says he is coming into the role with an open mind, confidence in his team,
and an emphatic focus on the Forum family and values of regionalism.
Secretary General Puna, who is in Auckland waiting for a green light to travel to Covid-hit Fiji, said “our Blue Pacific Continent is at its best and its strongest when our member nations work together as a family, and we must continue to do all we can to protect that strength”.
the ongoing high-level political dialogue with the Micronesia Presidents’
Summit on notice of withdrawal from the Forum, SG Puna said that a political
dialogue process is underway “and is symbolic of our Pacific way of talanoa and
amicable resolution of differences”.
us await the outcome of that process. As the Forum Secretariat, we will
continue to serve all Members and I look forward to that ongoing engagement
across our Forum family.”
Micronesian members have decided to leave the Forum following the selection of
Puna who won the post earlier this year.
leaders of Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall
Islands and Palau have collectively expressed disappointment with the
appointment process, which overlooked the Micronesian candidate Gerald Zackios.
Puna said: “It is a matter of looking after each other and supporting each
other when challenges arise. If one succeeds, we all succeed, and if one fails,
it’s a shared failure. I am committed to working with all our Member nations to
work towards strengthening the solidarity of our Forum family.”
Forum Secretary General, Puna will serve as the Pacific Ocean Commissioner,
noting “the future of our ocean, and work in oceans governance, is of
particular interest to me. Our Forum Member nations share a common border, our
Blue Pacific Ocean, and we are the custodians of its health, security, and
sustainability. This responsibility I take very seriously”.
Forum Secretary General also serves as permanent chair of the Council of
Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP), a role mandated to the Secretary
General by Forum Leaders since 1995.
Puna reaffirmed the importance of maintaining strong collective efforts to
progress regional priorities including the development of the 2050 Strategy for
the Blue Continent, Covid-19, climate change, fisheries, maritime boundaries,
nuclear legacy issues, and continuing to engage with members and partners in
preparation for the global launch of the Pacific Resilience Facility later this
paid tribute to former Secretary General of the Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, who
will be returning to Papua New Guinea once international travel resumes.
must honour the progress which my predecessor Dame Meg Taylor has achieved in
her time at the helm, and through the pandemic,” SG Puna said, “her
contribution and achievements during her tenure have my warmest respect, and
speak to her passion for the founding values of the Pacific Islands Forum.”
also called for a moment of reflection and solidarity across the Pacific
Islands Forum for the people of Samoa, where post-election events are making
Forum family is following closely the developments on the ground in Samoa and
encourages all parties to pursue peaceful means to resolve their difficulties.
The Forum also stands ready to offer support and help if requested.
“I ask each of us across our Member nations to keep
the people of Samoa in our thoughts and prayers at this time, knowing that
Samoa’s sovereign process and the world-renowned Fa’a Samoa will prevail at
this critical moment in their history.”