COMSATS delegation comprising of Dr. Azeema Fareed (Principal Medical Officer) and Ms. Farhana Saleem (Senior Publications and Communication Officer) participated in the second Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) Leaders’ Summit and Conference 2019, held from July 29 – 30, 2019, at Nadi, Fiji. The event themed “South-South Cooperation for a Resilient Pacific”, was attended by country representatives from Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshal Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Timor Liste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanautu, who reviewed the achievements and challenges of PIDF since the last Leaders’ Summit held in July 2016.
The event was inaugurated on July 29, 2019, in a ceremony featuring welcome remarks of PIDF Secretary General, H.E. Mr. François Martel, in which he stated that PIDF in the backdrop of global developmental challenges serves as the platform for South-South Cooperation in the Pacific Islands with a focus on sustainable development and poverty eradication. He said that the organization has made strong efforts to institute partnerships with organizations of Asia-Pacific and those mandated with South-South Cooperation. The premiers of Solomon Islands, Nauru, Tuvalu, and Seychelles, also delivered keynote addresses during the ceremony.
The inaugural was followed by eight plenary sessions spanning the two days of the event. As a panelist of the first session themed “South-South Cooperation: The Global Experience and Relevance to the Pacific”, Ms. Saleem made a statement wherein she highlighted COMSATS’ focus on South-South Cooperation and Sustainable Development. She featured COMSATS’ role in: (i) Advocacy and harnessing political will for development activities; and (ii) Science communication and finding indigenous solutions. She linked COMSATS’ undertakings with the main theme of the event, i.e., Climate Change. Other panelists of the session included representatives from United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP), Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat, and China International Centre for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE).
Subsequent sessions focused on: best practices of South-South and Triangular Cooperation from Pacific Island Countries; public and private sector engagement strategies to capitalize on the potential of blue/green economy; multi-stakeholder partnerships for Islands resilience; and leveraging scalable and replicable innovative solutions from the Global South for building resilience. Representatives from Fiji Ministry of Employment, Fiji Ministry of Forests, Pacific China Friendship Association, Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, China Oceanic Development Foundation, Asian Development Bank, Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, Pacific Island Farmers Organization Network (PIFON), Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, International Bamboo and Rattan Organization, Pacific Blue Foundation, Huawei, Suntech, Fiji Ministry of Economy, 350, USP Law School, and Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC) participated during the following sessions.
The event focusing on Climate change resulted in Nadi Bay Declaration on the Climate Change Crisis in the Pacific. The Declaration, adopted on 30th July 2019, entailed all parties and relevant stakeholders, inter alia, to:
- Taking immediate actions for addressing climate change and sea level rise in the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS);
- Ceasing coal mining and production;
- Relinquishing the subsidies to fossil fuels;
- Adopting renewable energy for electricity generation and transport; and
- Support mitigation and adaptation efforts through deployment of Green Climate Funds.
Subsequent to the Summit, some participants including COMSATS’ officials were taken for a field visit to the Koroipita Model Town to enhance their understanding of the island developed solution replicable and scalable for Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) facing similar challenges.
On the sidelines of the Conference, COMSATS’ delegates held meetings with representatives of PIDF, UNOSSC, SunTECH, Huawei, Pacific China Friendship Association, and Pacific Islands Universities Research Network (PIURN).
Participation in the PIDF Summit and Conference helped in bridging COMSATS with relevant stakeholders in South Pacific, as well as develop new understanding of challenges and opportunities of South-South cooperation in the region.