Analysis

PM Bainimarama In Frontline Of Discussions As Leaders Focus On Regional Issues

Top of the agenda is climate change. The small island states in their pre-forum meeting have reaffirmed their support for Mr. Bainimarama.
14 Aug 2019 15:41
PM Bainimarama In Frontline Of Discussions As Leaders Focus On Regional Issues
From left: Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva in Funafuti, Tuvalu.

Analysis:

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama looked relaxed last night as he headed to the ceremonial opening of the 50th Pacific Islands Forum in Funafuti, Tuvalu.

He knows that he is carrying the hopes of the small island states in the region on a number of issues on the eve of the forum meeting starting today.

Top of the agenda is climate change. The small island states in their pre-forum meeting have reaffirmed their support for Mr. Bainimarama.

They have basically used most of the issues he had raised when he opened their meeting on Monday in their communiqué.

They have seen him perform as COP23 president and co-lead the charge in the World Ocean conference with Sweden.

He has shown that he is not afraid to leave aside the diplomatic niceties and speak out on serious and important issues, particularly those that affect the livelihood and survival of small island states.

He is ready to re-engage with his Australian and New Zealand counterparts at the forum, after a lapse of more than 10 years.

There is an air of excitement and expectation that he will bring a lot of energy and fresh perspectives to the forum.

He set the tone on Monday when he recognized the contribution of Australia and New Zealand in regional development. In the same breath, he called on Australia to do more on phasing out coal for other renewable sources of energy.

He is expected to call for more climate finance help to assist small island nations in tackling the adverse impact of climate change.

Australian PM Scott Morrison and New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern will arrive this morning and head straight for day one of the forum meetings.

They are staying for the full duration of the meeting, which ends on Friday. It illustrates that they are taking this forum meeting seriously because of Mr. Bainimarama’s attendance after a long absence.

His views are well known to both leaders.

Mr. Bainimarama wants the small island states to be given a fair go in deciding what is best for them and not be dictated to by Australia and New Zealand.

The two countries wield a lot of influence because of the development aid they have poured into the region. They also want a say in how this aid is utilized.

It’s this fine balancing exercise that will test the positions of individual countries.

For Mr. Bainimarama, he wants a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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