Dear friends,

The forthcoming Tenth Conference of the Pacific Community offers us an opportunity to celebrate the organisation’s 70th anniversary. Hosted in Nouméa by New Caledonia, this international institution has through all those years demonstrated its ability to help respond to our region’s sustainable development needs. All the men and women who have been part of this great endeavor deserve our heartfelt commendation!

SPC is now entering a new era. As Chair of the 10th Conference, I wish to convey to our organisation my best wishes for its success in taking up the enormous challenges now emerging as our region faces growing threats.

These challenges are many: climate change, with very significant impacts in our region; protection of the health and food security of our communities; sustainable natural resource management; sustainable economic development for our region, which we know cannot be achieved unless we break down the barriers of remoteness and develop our trading and human relationships, while not neglecting our cultural and digital ties either. Neither am I overlooking the maritime sphere, which flows through all Pacific development policies, or ocean protection, a highly debated issue at the moment with the recent international Ocean Conference.

In order to achieve its regional mandate, SPC must now more than ever be capable of adapting to our world’s realities. The global economic crisis, being endured by all the founding member states and major donors to SPC, is forcing our organisation to rethink its operating principles and review its governance arrangements. This strategic reform must be pursued and I do wish to salute the major progress already achieved in this effort within SPC, under the leadership of its executive team and in particular our Director-General, Dr Tukuitonga. For New Caledonia, the 10th Conference holds great importance for two reasons.

First, it enables us to strongly assert our commitment to the development of the Pacific Islands. We are a developed country and a major donor to the organisation. I am very honoured that this event has enabled us to further enhance our cooperation by endorsing a partnership with SPC to strengthen regional cooperation.

The Conference also gives us an opportunity to host a session on the future partnership between the European Union and the Pacific. New Caledonia has a special relationship with the European Union and we are one of its conduits into the region. This explains why I campaigned for over a year to host a special session in Nouméa on this very important issue. I am grateful to Pascal Lamy, the high-level facilitator for the Pacific for the agreement that will supersede the Cotonou Agreement after 2020, for accepting our invitation to take part.

In conclusion, please allow me to pay tribute to Mr Jacques Iékawé who was appointed Director-General of SPC in 1991 but who passed on before being able to devote his talents to the organisation. A son of our country, he was passionate about our region and would, I am quite sure, have been proud of the Pacific Community’s achievements. We follow naturally in his footsteps along the path of excellence so as to build, as our Strategic Plan states, a region in which peace, harmony, security and social inclusion prevail and where all Pacific Island peoples can live free and prosperous lives.

Mr Philippe Germain, President of the Government and Chair of the Tenth Conference of the Pacific Community