Supporting the Pacific in realising its global potential

Action against climate change, food and fisheries security for all, infrastructure needs

Since its inception in 1998, the Global Foundation has always maintained a commitment to engaging and involving Australia’s neighbouring states, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, in its wider, ‘second track’ discussions about the important issues for the future of the Asia Pacific region. This was manifest at the Foundation’s Asia Pacific Roundtable discussions, held in Washington in 2000, in Beijing in 2001, in Sydney in 2004 and in Singapore in 2006, and in related activities in the Pacific and elsewhere, including globally, since that time.It was consistent and appropriate, therefore, that the Foundation invited and part-sponsored the participation at its 2017 Rome Roundtable, of the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, enabling the Pacific Islands to have a prominent voice at its most important annual global discussion, convened in Rome.

Subsequent to that Rome meeting, at which the challenges of the Pacific regarding climate change and its attendant issues were illuminated, the Foundation then supported an approach to the Secretariat of State of the Vatican by the Pacific Islands Forum, for their leaders to meet with Pope Francis on their way to the annual global climate talks that will be held in November of this year in Germany, with Fiji as the host country. Pope Francis has been a strong and consistent voice in favour of global action against climate change, as with his Encyclical, Laudato Si’ and his encouraging remarks when he endorsed the work of the Global Foundation at its January 2017 Rome Roundtable.

Steve Howard, Secretary General of the Global Foundation, was pleased to carry a letter of request from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to his meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State to His Holiness, Pope Francis, when they met in Rome on 31 May 2017.

The Global Foundation was delighted to learn, subsequently, that Pope Francis has agreed to meet with the Pacific Island leaders in Rome on 9 November, enroute to Germany.

The Foundation welcomes this important development as a moment of international solidarity and as a expression of urgency for climate action, against the vulnerability of the small island states of the Pacific.

Consistent with its long-standing track record in ensuring that words are supported by actions, the Foundation is also keen to ensure that the Rome meeting is more than a public relations exercise and that it leads to real and enduring action.

Accordingly, the Foundation has offered to the Pacific Islands Forum and to the Vatican, that it would be willing to do all possible to bring together leaders from the global investor and business community and international institutions, that are already part of its ongoing Rome Roundtable program, to define ways in which they might work together to produce practical action and change, in mitigating against climate change effects in the Pacific. This would involve practical discussions about financing of infrastructure projects in the region, with priority to those projects with enduring, ‘green’ benefits.

The leader of this work is one of our Key Partners, Frank Pegan, CEO of Catholic Super in Melbourne, in his capacity as a leader of the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change, which has more than 400 global investors with assets of more than $30 trillion, actively seeking investor-led pathways to action.

At the same time, the Foundation wishes to encourage the Rome talks to focus on related, positive outcomes. For example, the Pacific, which embraces 1/3 of the earth’s surface and produces 60% of Europe’s seafood, has the potential to become a more economically viable and sustainable region of the planet in helping to ensure global food security for all – a top priority for the Foundation over many years.

The Global Foundation also continues to play a leading role in ensuring that PNG and the Pacific are given every opportunity to benefit from multilateral institutional involvement and investment. To this effect, Steve Howard, Secretary General of the Foundation, who is also an International Advisor to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), in his own right, was pleased to instigate an application for AIIB membership by Papua New Guinea and, at the same time, has initiated a visit program to the Pacific Islands by the President of the AIIB, Mr Jin Liqun, with a view to having all Pacific Island states encouraged to join – and benefit from membership of – the AIIB.

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