The impact of Covid-19, devastating effects of climate change and natural disasters and the fragile economic health of the Pacific region were the topics of discussion at the second virtual Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting held yesterday.
Prime Minister Mark Brown in his capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration led the Cook Islands delegation.
This is the second meeting of Foreign Ministers that’s been necessary to convene this year, taking place virtually via Zoom technology due to border closures.
The earlier meeting, held in July, culminated in Foreign Ministers establishing the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on Covid-19, which has proven instrumental in moving much needed medical and humanitarian supplies and Pacific people across the region.
Prominently featured in the discussions was the three-prong crisis facing the region - the impact of Covid-19, the devastating effects of climate change and natural disasters and the fragile economic health of the region because of inherent vulnerabilities.
PM Brown said: “These three regional security threats are recognised as security threats in our own draft National Security Policy and the Cook Islands must work collaboratively with other Forum member countries and others if we are to going to overcome those threats and protect and promote our national and regional security.”
Also on the agenda were efforts to achieve the regional 2050 Vision for the Blue Pacific continent.
This is of great importance for the Cook Islands, said Brown.
“For the people of the Cook Islands our ocean resources are not only our heritage from our ancestors but also our source of wealth,” he said.
“We must harvest the resources of the ocean in a sustainable manner, adopting a precautionary approach based on the best scientific, technical and legal advice. And we must do so in ways that complement and support best practice throughout our region so that our entire Pacific family can benefit.”
Assessing the regional situation, Brown observed that the region was in uncertain and challenging times and the need for unity was greater than ever.
“We are entering a period of uncertainty in which our regional cohesion and concept of the Pacific family are under threat,” he said.
“In the past, we used to be able to reinforce our ties through regular meetings and face-to-face conversations on all sorts of issues, which reinforced our togetherness.
“In the face of the diverse threats we face today, we must make special efforts to maintain our unity and decision-making for the benefit of the region as a whole. It is only in this way that we, the people of the Blue Pacific continent will not only survive but thrive in the years to come.”