Statement by His Excellency President Baron Divavesi Waqa

His Excellency Baron Waqa has used a speech to the 10th Conference of the Pacific Community and 70th Anniversary in Noumea to address modern challenges being faced by South Pacific countries.

The President said new challenges need new solutions and innovation is the best way forward.

 

I would like to take this opportunity by thanking the outgoing Chairman,
the Honourable Billy Talagi for his chairmanship and stewardship of the
9th Conference. I congratulate His Excellency Philippe Germain the
President of New Caledonia for assuming the Chairmanship and we look
forward to working with His Excellency over the next two days. I also
thank the SPC Director General Dr. Collin Tukuitonga for his warm and
welcoming remarks this morning. I acknowledge with interest and
appreciation, the views and comments presented by the distinguished
panel of key note speakers on our thematic discussions.

It is befitting Hon. Chairman that my first and foremost word of business
this morning is to congratulate SPC on this momentous occasion for the
70th Anniversary since its establishment.

We have come a long way since 1947 when the world and the Pacific, not
long earlier, witnessed the end of a cruel and destructive War. The
impact of that War on my people was devastating and the loss of life,
extremely high. Last year, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the
return of the Nauruan survivors, from exile.

Hon. Chairman, looking back through time, transportation and
communications between island countries and territories were real
challenges back then. For example, getting someone from Nauru to come
to Noumea or to Suva for SPC conferences during the 1950s and 60s,
would take weeks. Today, we take these things for granted with modern
air transportation systems, and through much improved communication
systems such as satellites, fibre optics, and mobile phones. Decisions
today can be made instantaneously through smart phones and smart apps
from anyway on the planet. We also have modern health and education
systems to cater for our peoples.

Hon. Chairman, the modern days brought modern development to our
shores. But it also brought modern challenges. We are facing a whole
range of issues today as never before. We have a huge population
expansion compared to 70 years ago, and this places a lot of stress on
our ecosystems, and on our natural resources including our land and our
oceans. We are facing uncertainties associated with climate change that
could have a far reaching impact on our environment and our peoples.
The challenges we have ahead of us are indeed challenging for the whole
region, and we must adapt to the changing circumstances.

SPC has done a lot of good work for the region over the past 70 years,
and Nauru was a grateful recipient of such assistance, including the
invaluable support provided through the years when we experienced
great hardship. We will continue to recognise SPC for its specialized role
that it provides the region, and we look forward to further collaborative
projects in areas such as land rehabilitation, including capacity and
institutional building in other areas that SPC specializes.

Hon. Chairman, in respect to the proposed innovative approaches as
articulated by the theme of our Conference, I am of the view that we
must support SPC to do its work based on the priorities of the region we
have identified such as the SAMOA Pathway and the SDGs. Our priorities
are changing and evolving over time, and as I articulated earlier, we face
a challenging future as we will have more mouths to feed and look after,
in an uncertain future brought on by climate change and socio-economic
impacts.
Hon. Chairman, new challenges need new solutions so our theme today
correctly identifies innovation as an approach in how we should conduct
our affairs for the future. Perhaps one way of being innovative is to look
beyond our traditional partners and consider non-traditional partners,
such as Taiwan and Israel. I have visited Taiwan numerous times, and I
was recently in Israel. The level of innovation and technological
development in these two countries are simply amazing, especially in
areas such as fisheries and aquaculture, agriculture, land and economic
development, and in many other areas. SPC sought collaboration with
Singapore in capacity building, so why not do the same with Israel and
Taiwan? These are only two examples and there are more around.

Mr. Chairman, I thank you for this opportunity and I wish SPC, a happy
70th birthday.
Thank you and God bless.