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Pacific Island nations are facing complex, interconnected challenges, but taking a regional approach to addressing these issues provides an opportunity to influence world policy and meet the region’s development challenges.
Join Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Director-General of the Pacific Community, who will share his personal observations and reflections at the annual ST Lee Lecture at The Australian National University (ANU) College of Asia and the Pacific.
The Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) of the Pacific region face significant challenges, including complex vulnerabilities, dependencies and uncertainties that arise for countries and communities as the region copes with economic development, globalisation, the social and economic costs of noncommunicable diseases and the damaging effects of climate change.
As a result, regionalism is presented as a compelling strategy for the SIDS. Regionalism provides an opportunity for SIDS to influence world policy, build capacity in the region, promote good governance, maintain peaceful neighbourly relations and create positive development outcomes. Pacific leaders believe that there are significant benefits to sharing and combining resources for leverage, influence and competitiveness and for overcoming geographical and demographic disadvantages. It also creates a bigger cooperative region in which Pacific peoples will have more opportunities for activities not viable at the national level.
The key policy instrument for fostering and supporting regionalism is the Framework for Pacific Regionalism (FPR) which was endorsed by the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in 2014. The Framework is intended to support “focussed political conversations and settlements that address key strategic issues, including shared sovereignty, pooling resources and delegating decision-making”.
Dr Tukuitonga’s presentation will focus on the impact of the FPR on meeting the development challenges of the region. He will discuss notable examples of ‘regionalism’, including regional tertiary education provisions, increased returns from tuna fisheries and the gains made in climate change. Opinion is divided of how effective the FPR has been in fostering shared sovereignty, pooling resources and delegated decision-making.
About the speaker
Dr Colin Tukuitonga has served as Pacific Community (SPC) Director-General since January 2014. He is based at the organisation’s headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia.
Dr Tukuitonga, from the Pacific island of Niue, was formerly the Director of SPC’s Public Health Division. He was a member of an Independent External Review of SPC in 2012. His previous roles include: Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs; Associate Professor of Public Health and Head of Pacific and International Health at the University of Auckland; Director of Public Health, New Zealand Ministry of Health; and Head of Surveillance and Prevention of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases at the World Health Organization, Switzerland.
Dr Tukuitonga has also served in various leadership and management roles, including at the Fiji School of Medicine, the Auckland District Health Board, Northern Regional Health Authority (Auckland), University of Auckland and the Health Research Council of New Zealand. He is a former Board member of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.
Additionally, Dr Tukuitonga was a commissioner for the World Health Organization (WHO) global Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity from 2014 until its work concluded in early 2016.
Dr Tukuitonga is a Founding Member of the Niue Arts and Culture Festival, Pacific Language Weeks in New Zealand, and of the Leadership Development Programme for Pacific civil servants in New Zealand. He is a member of the Pacific Research panel for the Performance-Based Research Fund 2018 Quality Evaluation.
About the ST Lee Lecture on Asia and the Pacific
The ST Lee Lecture series was established following an endowment from Dr Seng Tee Lee (ST Lee) of the Lee Foundation in Singapore. It supports an annual lecture that provides the opportunity for a distinguished figure from the Asia Pacific to speak on developments or trends in the region.