Delegates from all 26 member countries of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) are attending the 44th annual meeting of CRGA (Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations) at SPC headquarters in Noumea.
Observers from Timor Leste, the European Union, and regional and international agencies are also attending the meeting, which officially opened today at SPC’s Jacques Iékawé Conference Hall.
Frederick Muller of the Republic of the Marshall Islands is chairing the meeting, with Nauru providing the vice-chairperson. The Chair reminded delegates of several significant items on the agenda including proposed changes to SPC’s membership and the evolution of governance arrangements to give members a stronger role in deciding the direction of their organisation.
SPC Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, said it was important to note that SPC is in a good position to address the region’s challenges.
“However, we can do better, including through better governance,” he said. “We’re shifting our focus to development effectiveness and accountability for results. This is not at the expense of our technical and scientific work. On the contrary, it is about ensuring our work has an impact on broader development problems and thus makes a real difference in people’s lives.”
During the opening session, Australia formally announced the signing of a 10 year partnership (2014‒2023) with SPC, and a 26 per cent increase in the funding the Government of Australia will provide in 2015 compared to 2014.
The partnership agreement includes more flexible multi-year funding based on assessment of SPC’s performance in achieving development objectives, and reflects the high degree of engagement between Australia and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
In a memorable first for a CRGA meeting, the Director-General launched the White Ribbon Campaign at SPC. Stressing that violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive manifestations of inequality in the Pacific and the world, Dr Tukuitonga invited all male delegates to sign a pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent on violence against women. The White Ribbon Campaign, which began in Canada, is the largest male-led movement to end this violence.
The opening session was followed by a programmes expo, giving delegates a close-up view of the work of SPC’s technical divisions and opportunities for discussions with staff.
CRGA 44 runs from 4 to 7 November 2014.