14 October 2020
Today, I met virtually with regional counterparts for our annual Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers' meeting to discuss our work together on priority issues including regional health and economic security, our shared natural environment and the impact of COVID19 on women and girls in the Pacific.
Forum Foreign Ministers committed to work together to continue to deliver outcomes consistent with the Boe and Kainaki declarations for a resilient, sustainable and secure region.
We also discussed global action on sustainable oceans management, climate change and our important work on Pacific maritime boundaries. Australia reiterated our commitment to continue partnering with our region in response to the shared challenge of climate change, including through our $500 million in support for renewable energy investment and disaster resilience support across the Pacific over five years from 2020.
We discussed the significant impact of COVID-19 on women and girls, and the opportunities for Pacific Islands Forum members to promote improved, long-term development outcomes for Pacific women. We agreed to continue to raise the prominence of gender equality on the regional agenda.
Australia is committed to supporting our Blue Pacific family to access safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines, once available. This will build on our $80 million investment in the Gavi COVAX Facility Advance Market Commitment.
Australia is also introducing initiatives in Pacific aviation and food security to support pandemic response efforts and economic recovery.
Australia will support regular flights on critical routes between Australia, Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste. It will enable the delivery of essential freight, including COVID-19 medical supplies, and provide opportunities for people to return home and for Pacific and Timorese workers to travel to Australia to fill rural and regional workforce shortages.
Passenger flights are currently operating at roughly 1 per cent of last year's volume.
Through a $9.5 million Food Security Initiative, Australia will deliver beneficial farming and fisheries technologies, to enable more productive, sustainable and climate resilient food systems in the Pacific. We will also provide a $10 million program to empower Pacific communities, through new skills and knowledge, to sustainably manage their coastal fisheries, vital for food security and nutrition.
The recommendations from today's Forum Foreign Ministers meeting will be considered by Forum Leaders at their virtual retreat in November. Together we will build the strong regional humanitarian pathways necessary for strong a resilient economies and healthy communities.
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