Forty-Ninth Pacific Islands Forum: Communiqué

The Forty-Ninth Pacific Islands Forum was held in Yaren, Nauru from 3 – 6 September 2018 and was attended by Heads of State, Government, and Territories from the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Australia was represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Republic of Fiji was represented by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, Palau by its Minister of State and Papua New Guinea by its Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Forum Leaders’ Retreat was held at the Nauru Learning Village, Yaren, Nauru.

2. Tokelau attended the formal session as an Associate Member. Wallis and Futuna, the Asian Development Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the United Nations (UN), the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), the International Organisation for Migration and the World Bank attended as Observers. The Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP): the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (PIFFA); the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO); the Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP); the Pacific Power Association (PPA); the Pacific Community (SPC); the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO); the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP); and the University of the South Pacific (USP) were represented by their respective Heads of Organisations and senior officials. Forum Leaders also welcomed the opportunity to engage with the broader Forum family, including Dialogue Partners, civil society and the private sector.

3. Forum Leaders expressed their appreciation to the President of Nauru, the Government and the people of Nauru for the warm hospitality extended to all delegations. Leaders commended the preparations and facilitation of the 2018 Leaders’ and related meetings, which enabled Leaders and all participants to hold constructive discussions, and contributed to the overall success of the 49th Pacific Islands Forum.

Building a Stronger Pacific – Our People, Our Islands, Our Will

4. Leaders congratulated the Government of Nauru for the 49th PIF Leaders meeting theme, Building a Strong Pacific: Our People, Our Islands, Our Will, recognising the opportunity that the theme presents to strengthen the region’s collective will to drive the region’s ambition to overcome the persistent development challenges faced by the Pacific people.

5. In recognising the Blue Pacific narrative, endorsed by Leaders in their meeting in Samoa, Leaders also welcomed the theme as an opportunity to build on the momentum of the Blue Pacific – reminding and inspiring ‘us all’ to value the strategic potential of the region, and to act together from a position of strength.

6. In taking into account of the 1st Quadrennial Pacific Sustainable Development Report which tracks our region’s progress in realising the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (S.A.M.O.A) Pathway and other global commitments, Leaders committed to ensuring that sustainable development in the region is achieved on its terms and in a way that recognizes the region’s rich culture, national circumstances, and oceanic resources.

7. Leaders endorsed the first Quadrennial Pacific Sustainable Development Report in 2018, as the Pacific region’s Sustainable Development report on the 2030 Agenda, S.A.M.O.A Pathway and other global commitments, recognising that it will support Leaders’ participation at the 2019 UN General Assembly Special Summit on the 2030 Agenda and the S.A.M.O.A Pathway Mid Term Review, including the remaining preparatory processes.

8. Leaders reaffirmed the prominence of regionally established mechanisms and called on all development partners, including multilateral agencies, to integrate, monitor and report on global sustainable development commitments through existing Forum mechanisms, to ensure coherence in policy, implementation and accountability.

9. Leaders directed the Secretariat to work with the Forum Troika (Samoa, Nauru and Tuvalu) to review the guidelines and format of the Pacific Islands Forum Meetings and report back to Leaders.

Regionalism priorities

10. As the Blue Pacific, Leaders welcomed the opportunity for building a Strong Pacific for ‘our people and our islands’ by prioritising collective actions on the following priorities:

Regional Security Declaration

11. Leaders acknowledged the dynamic geopolitical environment that has led to an increasingly crowded and contested region, and reaffirmed the need for strengthened collective and cohesive action to effectively manage our regional security environment in a proactive manner.

12. Leaders recalled their 2017 decision on a regional security declaration and welcomed the extensive security discussions held on an expanded concept of security inclusive of human security, humanitarian assistance, prioritising environmental security and regional cooperation in building resilience to disasters and climate change. Leaders acknowledged the development of a Regional Security Declaration which builds on and complements the Biketawa Declaration, and responds to the region’s complex and evolving regional security environment.

13. Leaders endorsed the Regional Security Declaration to be known as the Boe Declaration as provided in Annex 1 and noted that an action plan for implementation, supporting the proposed regional security declaration, will be developed by November, 2018.

14. Leaders directed the Forum Troika (Samoa, Nauru and Tuvalu) to review progress of implementation of the Boe Declaration in mid-2019.

Climate Change and Disaster Resilience

15. Recognising that climate change presents the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security and wellbeing of Pacific people, Leaders reaffirmed the importance of immediate urgent action to combat climate change and committed to sustained, high level representation and collaboration in the lead up to, and at, 24th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (COP 24) – to ensure effective progress on Pacific priorities with regards to the Paris Agreement, particularly the development of the Rule Book and Guidelines for implementing the Paris Agreement, building on the Talanoa Dialogue.

16. Leaders acknowledged the leadership of Fiji’s COP 23 presidency and called on the CROP Plus group to provide strong, coordinated support and assistance to members delegations in the UNFCCC negotiations.

17. Leaders called on countries, particularly large emitters, to fully implement their Nationally Determined Contribution mitigation targets, including through the development and transfer of renewable energy, in line with committed timeframes. Leaders of Forum Island Countries called on the United States to return to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

18. Leaders urged the expeditious progress of the work of the taskforce for the Pacific Islands Climate Change Insurance Facility.

19. Leaders requested the United Nations Secretary General to appoint a Special Adviser on climate change and security. Furthermore, Leaders called on the United Nations Security Council to appoint a special rapporteur to produce a regular review of global, regional and national security threats caused by climate change.

20. Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Framework for the Resilient Development of the Pacific recognising the value and importance of a multi-sectoral approach to addressing climate change and its impacts. Leaders acknowledged the establishment of a regional risk governance arrangement through the Pacific Resilience Partnership and the Pacific Resilience Partnership Taskforce.

21. Leaders endorsed the development of the concept of the Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF) and directed the Secretariat to progress the development of the PRF.


22. Leaders reiterated their commitment to ensuring the long-term sustainability and viability of the region’s fisheries resources, recognizing its centrality to the well-being of communities and economies.

23. In noting the outcomes of the 2018 Forum Fisheries Ministers meeting and recalling their 2017 decision that fisheries constitute a standing agenda item for the Forum, Leaders endorsed the proposal for an annual Regional Fisheries Ministers meeting, on the margins of the Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial Meeting, to report to Leaders on all fisheries related matters, including scientific and economic assessments of the adverse impacts of climate change and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

24. Leaders welcomed Fisheries Ministers’ commitment to address the underperformance of the regional longline fishery and request that Ministers report back to Leaders in 2019. Leaders called upon Distance Water Fishing Nations (DWFN) to remove harmful fisheries subsidies for longline fishing that lead to overcapacity and overfishing, taking note of the difficulties faced by some countries.

25. Leaders committed to supporting the advancement of the priorities identified by Fisheries Ministers for negotiations in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) through strengthened Forum engagement and advocacy with DWFN.


26. Leaders acknowledged the urgency and importance of securing the region’s maritime boundaries as a key issue for the development and security of our region, and thereby for the security and well-being of the Blue Pacific Continent. Leaders commended the SPC, the PIFFA, PIFS and other relevant agencies for the legal and technical support and assistance on maritime boundaries delimitation.

27. Leaders committed to progressing the resolution of outstanding maritime boundary claims and report back on progress at the Forum Leaders meeting in 2019.

28. Leaders agreed to mobilise all relevant Forum mechanisms to advance the region’s positions in the negotiations for a new Implementing Agreement on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).

29. Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to eliminate marine litter and the urgency of implementing the Pacific Marine Litter Action Plan recently endorsed by the Pacific Region Waste Roundtable.

Childhood Obesity and Early Childhood Development/Non-Communicable Diseases:

30. Leaders expressed their grave concern with the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), noting that NCDs now represents the leading cause of premature deaths in our region. Leaders also expressed their alarm at the increasing incidence of childhood obesity and stunting particularly its impact on future generations of Pacific people – an issue that has been highlighted for our attention by the Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism.

31. Leaders committed to leading a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach at the national level to address Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and childhood obesity and early childhood development.

32. Leaders committed to availing sufficient resources to address NCDs and childhood obesity, to ensure the effective implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 NCDs Roadmap and the 2016 NCDs Summit.

West Papua (Papua)

33. Leaders recognised the constructive engagement by Forum countries with Indonesia with respect to elections and human rights in West Papua (Papua) and to continue dialogue in an open and constructive manner.

Aerial surveillance

34. Leaders supported the Aerial Surveillance programme to be implemented by MOUs entered into by each government, and constituent parts, with PIFFA.

35. Leaders committed to ensuring processes (including national level coordination) are made as efficient as possible to ensure the program is implemented efficiently.

36. Leaders acknowledged the support of the Government of Australia to strengthen the surveillance capabilities of participating members.

Strengthening arrangements for regionalism

37. Leaders reaffirmed the importance of whole-of-government engagement to drive its regional priorities, recognizing their individual responsibility for maintaining the momentum for implementation of our regional policy agenda.

Charter of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific

38. In this respect, Leaders endorsed the revised CROP Charter, to ensure full alignment with the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and strengthen CROP cooperation, coordination and collaboration, under the oversight of the CROP Chair.

39. Leaders directed CROP agencies to strengthen collaboration and effectively implement commitments reflected under the revised CROP Charter.

40. Leaders conveyed their appreciation to Mr James Movick, Director General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, and Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, for their commitment and service to the region. Leaders welcomed the appointment of Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen as Director General of the PIFFA.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Sustainable Funding Resolution

41. In recognising the importance of increasing members’ equitable ownership of the Secretariat, Leaders endorsed the ongoing Secretariat reforms to ensure adequate and predictable funding of the Secretariat to safeguard its role as an independent body providing high quality policy advice to advance regionalism and approved the Sustainable Funding Resolution (Annex 2), with qualification.

Associate Membership

42. In considering the Forum’s capacity to represent the Pacific Islands region, consistent with the vision and objectives of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, Leaders endorsed the admission of Wallis and Futuna as an Associate Member to the Pacific Islands Forum.

28th Smaller Island States Leaders Meeting

43. With qualification, Leaders endorsed the Summary of Decisions of the 28th Smaller Island States Leaders Meeting.

Date and venue of next meeting

44. Leaders welcomed and confirmed the future hosts of the Forum as follows: Tuvalu in 2019 and Vanuatu in 2020.

Country initiatives

Pacific Fusion Centre

45. Leaders welcomed Australia’s decision to work with regional security agencies to establish a Pacific Fusion Centre that will build on current regional frameworks to strengthen information sharing and maritime domain awareness, to better inform security responses to some of the main threats outlined in the Boe Declaration, such as illegal fishing, drugs trafficking and other transnational crimes. Leaders urged the importance of working together to develop a fit-forpurpose Pacific regional fusion facility and to conduct a feasibility study in the last quarter of 2018.

Nuclear legacy and Other Issues in the Pacific

46. Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to addressing the outstanding security threats from nuclear legacy issues, including radioactive contaminants, World War II relics and unexploded ordinances in our Blue Pacific and call on all responsible parties to rectify the ongoing impacts of contaminants in our Ocean to sustain our future generations.

47. Leaders directed the Forum Secretariat, in coordination with CROP Agencies, to further advance national and regional efforts towards a just and final resolution, including through Forum international engagement and advocacy.

2018 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meeting

48. Leaders welcomed Papua New Guinea’s invitation as Chair of APEC 2018 to participate in an informal dialogue between Leaders of Forum Island Countries and Territories and APEC Leaders in the margin of the APEC Summit.

United Nations (UN) Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

49. Leaders noted the signature and ratification by the Cook Islands of the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty on 5th September 2018, joining Palau as the first and Vanuatu as the second Forum members to sign and ratify the Treaty, and encouraged individual member countries to progress efforts, as they deem appropriate.


50. Leaders noted the importance of and supported the mainstreaming of culture across the regional development agenda to protect, preserve and promote traditional knowledge and skills. Leaders noted the outcomes of the 2018 Ministerial Cultural Meeting and welcomed the commitment of Ministers responsible for Culture and supported the integration of regional strategies, including those on gender, employment, education, trade, tourism and environment.

Anti-Corruption Regional Meeting

51. Leaders noted the intention of the Republic of Kiribati to host a regional meeting on anticorruption in 2019.

2020 Our Ocean Conference

52. Leaders welcomed Palau’s intention to host the 2020 Our Ocean Conference and agreed to support Palau by advocating for financial and technical assistance from Development Partners.

2018 Climate Vulnerable Forum Virtual Summit

53. Leaders supported the Climate Vulnerable Forum Virtual Summit of Heads of Government hosted by the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the first to use an innovative entirely online format, on 22 November 2018, as a UNFCCC Talanoa Dialogue event towards increased ambition in climate action by 2020. Leaders called on world leaders to participate in solidarity with the most vulnerable nations.


54. Leaders recognised that waste is a critical issue for the Blue Pacific.

Pacific Islands Sports Ministers Agreement

55. Leaders noted the agreement of the 2018 Pacific Islands Sports Ministers Meeting to establish a Pacific Islands Sports Ministers Secretariat, including the proposal for a new operational and funding model for the Pacific Games. Leaders also noted their decision to review the Games Charter and the Host Agreement with the Pacific Games Council.

Country Classification

56. Leaders noted Solomon Islands imminent graduation from Least Developed Country status and its subsequent request to defer the graduation date to allow time for comprehensive due diligence and the development of its graduation road map to ensure a smooth transition. Leaders further noted Solomon Islands request for support of its proposal at the relevant fora.

Referendum on self-determination

57. Leaders acknowledged the progress towards the referendum on self-determination in New Caledonia on 4 November, 2018 and welcomed the invitation by France for a Forum Ministerial Committee Mission to the referendum under the auspices of the United Nations.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

Yaren, Nauru 5 September 2018

Annex 1

Boe Declaration

Forum Leaders:

Recognising and reaffirming our endorsement of the Biketawa Declaration in the year 2000 and recalling the principles underpinning the Biketawa Declaration such as commitment to good governance, belief in the liberty of the individual under the law, upholding democratic processes and institutions and recognising the vulnerability of member countries to threats to their security;

Recalling our vision and values for the Pacific under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, as a region of ‘peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity so that all Pacific people can lead free, healthy and productive lives’;

Recognising our endorsement of the ‘Blue Pacific’ identity to drive collective action in support of our vision under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism;

Recalling our agreement at the 48th Forum Leaders’ Meeting in Apia, Samoa, to build on the Biketawa Declaration and other Forum related security declarations and agreements as the foundation for strategic future regional responses;

Recognising the importance we placed on an expanded concept of security inclusive of human security, humanitarian assistance, prioritising environmental security, and regional cooperation in building resilience to disasters and climate change, including through regional cooperation and support;

Respecting the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of Forum Members; and;

Recognising the need to strengthen regional security cooperation and collective action through the assertion of Our Will and the voices of Our Pacific Peoples.


(i) We reaffirm that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific and our commitment to progress the implementation of the Paris Agreement;

(ii) We recognise an increasingly complex regional security environment driven by multifaceted security challenges , and a dynamic geopolitical environment leading to an increasingly crowded and complex region;

(iii) We affirm our stewardship of the Blue Pacific and aspire to strengthen and enhance our capacity to pursue our collective security interests given our responsibility to sustain our Pacific peoples and our resources;

(iv) We respect and assert the sovereign right of every Member to conduct its national affairs free of external interference and coercion;

(v) We reaffirm the right of Members to individually and collectively address security issues and concerns;

(vi) We reaffirm the importance of the rules-based international order founded on the UN Charter, adherence to relevant international law and resolution of international disputes by peaceful means;

(vii) We affirm an expanded concept of security which addresses the wide range of security issues in the region, both traditional and non-traditional, with an increasing emphasis on:

  1. Human Security, including humanitarian assistance, to protect the rights, health and prosperity of Pacific people;
  2. Environmental and resource security;
  3. Transnational crime; and,
  4. Cybersecurity, to maximise protections and opportunities for Pacific infrastructure and peoples in the digital age.

(viii) We recognise that national security impacts on regional security, and therefore commit to strengthening our respective national security approaches by:

  1. developing our national security strategies; and,
  2. strengthening national security capacity including through training.

(ix) We commit to strengthening the existing regional security architecture inclusive of regional law enforcement secretariats and regional organisations to:

  1. account for the expanded concept of security;
  2. identify and address emerging security challenges;
  3. improve coordination among existing security mechanisms;
  4. facilitate open dialogue and strengthened information sharing;
  5. further develop early warning mechanisms;
  6. support implementation;
  7. promote regional security analysis, assessment and advice; and,
  8. engage and cooperate, where appropriate, with international organisations, partners and other relevant stakeholders.

(x) We commit to continuing regular Leaders level discussions on the expanded concept of security as part of securing our Blue Pacific.

Annex 2Resolution on Sustainable Funding of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

The Leaders of the Member Governments of the Pacific Islands Forum:

Recalling Forum Leaders admitted French Polynesia and New Caledonia as full Members of the Forum, on 10 September 2016 at the 47th Pacific Islands Forum in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, which necessitates a readjustment of the shares set out in the Annex to the Agreement Establishing the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat done at Tarawa, Kiribati on 30 October 2000 (the Agreement);

Recalling also that Forum Leaders agreed at the 47th Pacific Islands Forum to accord the status of Smaller Island State to the Federated States of Micronesia, which necessitates a readjustment to its share;

Acknowledging that the shares contained in the Annex have not been reviewed since they were set in 1996, that membership contributions have remained relatively static since that time and no longer adequately fund the operating costs of the Secretariat;

Aware that the Secretariat’s funding needs to be sustainable, to ensure it can efficiently and effectively carry out its primary policy advisory function in accordance with the Agreement, the 2005 Agreement Establishing the Pacific Islands Forum and the Framework for Pacific Regionalism;

Recognising that while prioritisation measures have been implemented to promote the centrality of the Secretariat’s policy advisory functions, reforms are also required to address structural issues affecting the Secretariat’s ability to achieve sustainable funding; and

Desiring to promote greater ownership by all Members, and equity amongst all Members, of the Pacific Islands Forum and its Secretariat and ensure the work programme is determined by Members;

(i) determine new shares for Member governments to meet the costs of the Secretariat under Article X.2 of the Agreement as set out in Annex A to this resolution, to replace those currently set out in the Annex to the Agreement effective from 1 January 2018;

(ii) agree to increase the proportion of Member contributions to be 60% of the Primary Budget (the costs of operating the Secretariat to discharge its core functions) through progressive pre-determined, incremental adjustments over a period of 9 years, starting in 2019;

(iii) institute a regular three-yearly review beginning in 2021, of the level of Assessed Contributions from members and Voluntary Contributions, with the first review to incorporate an assessment of options for an adjustment factor to address the vulnerability and financial challenges of members;

(iv) strongly encourage countries that provide Voluntary Contributions to do so on a threeyearly basis that is aligned to the three-yearly review period;

(v) approve the parameters set out in Annex B for the use of donor extra budget funding by the Secretariat;

(vi) agree that administration fees from donor extra budget funding must not be used to fund the Secretariat’s regional policy advice functions, and

(vii) agree that, any shortfall from donor extra budget funding of the cost of Service Delivery functions must be funded by user fees or special member assessments from 1 January 2019.

Annex A

Revised Scale of contributions to the Budget

(used to determine the Assessed Contributions from members)

Member % contribution 2018 (transitional) % contribution 2019 (transitional) % contribution 2020 (transitional) % contribution 2021 and subsequent years Australia 35.85 31.97 28.17 24.50 Cook Islands 0.97 1.14 1.38 1.62 Federated States of Micronesia 0.97 1.15 1.39 1.63 Fiji 2.16 3.08 3.73 4.35 French Polynesia 2.23 3.15 3.81 4.45 Kiribat 0.97 1.09 1.32 1.55 Nauru 0.97 1.09 1.32 1.54 New Caledonia 2.79 3.94 4.77 5.57 New Zealand 35.85 31.97 28.17 24.50 Niue 0.97 1.06 1.29 1.51 Palau 0.97 1.13 1.37 1.60 Papua New Guinea 5.29 7.54 9.13 10.66 Republic of the Marshall Islands 0.97 1.11 1.35 1.57 Samoa 1.91 2.34 2.83 3.31 Solomon Islands 1.91 2.27 2.75 3.21 Tonga 1.91 2.20 2.67 3.12 Tuvalu 0.97 1.07 1.30 1.51 Vanuatu 1.91 2.33 2.83 3.30 Associate member         Tokelau 0.43 0.37 0.42 0.50

Annex B

Parameters for use of Extra Budget funding by the Secretariat – when extra budget funding from donors may be used

Use 1: Support of Regional Policy Development

a. To supplement policy formulation where specific activity costs can be identified.

b. To provide dedicated funds to support the implementation of a Leaders Regional Policy initiative.

Use 2: Advisory Support (as part of capacity building)

Where funds are needed to support the capacity of individual members to meet the objectives of a regional policy decision.

Use 3: Service Delivery

Where other services or benefits are being provided to a wide range of identifiable users, and economic funding principles indicate that the cost of providing these should otherwise be funded through direct charges on users or beneficiaries.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s). View in full here.