PACIFIC Islands Forum Leaders have concluded their Special Leaders Retreat overnight and have announced Henry Puna as the incoming Secretary General. Also on the agenda of the Special Leaders Retreat was the COVID-19 pandemic, including the distribution of vaccines to the region.
Leaders acknowledged the region’s efforts to date to manage the spread of the COIVD-19 pandemic in the Pacific region, including through the establishment and operationalisation of the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19.
Leaders also welcomed the significant support from Australia and New Zealand to secure vaccines for all Pacific people and the multilateral and bilateral partnerships working to ensure one hundred percent coverage.
“Leaders discussed the complexities facing the Pacific region at this time in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and including the ongoing threat of climate change and the increasing geostrategic competition in the region,” said Forum Chair and Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Hon. Kausea Natano. Puna assumes the position of Secretary General at a critical time in the region’s history and will need to guide the region through the COVID-19 recovery.
The appointment also signals the conclusion of the tenure of the incumbent Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor. “Leaders commended her stellar leadership and guidance to the Pacific Islands Forum on regional issues over the past 6 years and wished her well in her future endeavours.”
The Special Leaders Retreat discussions began with reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the region. Leaders reaffirmed that the wellbeing of the Pacific people remain their highest priority and emphasised the importance of the equitable distribution of safe and effective vaccines in the region.
A post-retreat press conference will be held on Thursday 4 February at 12pm. Media who have not yet registered are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Special Leaders’ Retreat Decisions will be issued in due course.