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The World came to the Pacific for ICSW 2017 and IFP supported PIANGO takes centre stage

Vani Catanasiga, Program Officer, Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO)

Bringing ICSW 2017 to the Pacific, for the first time in its history, was an important achievement for host PIANGO, bringing together close to 700 civil society and other diverse stakeholders from the Pacific and the globe to engage in finding common solutions to global challenges. It presented a significant opportunity for Pacific civil society actors, organisations and development partners to engage and dialogue with global counterparts while sharing the unique pressing concerns of the Pacific region and to exchange ideas and strategies with counterparts outside our region.

From the get go at the first IFP General Assembly, PIANGO shared our campaign on “One point five (1.5) to stay alive”. “Bringing IFP colleagues and global partners to see for themselves our rising sea levels, planting of mangroves as a line of defence on our shores – fulfilled our long-term dream that the world come to see for themselves – “says PIANGO Executive Emele Duituturaga.

ICSW 2017, organized in partnership with CIVICUS, was an inspiring, impactful and full of solidarity event. The bonds that were forged, the singing and dancing – our Pacific way, took global collaboration to another level giving us hope that with many more friends who will always remember the Pacific and fight for our cause – Climate Justice and our continued struggles for decolonisation and self-determination.

November Pacific Regional CSO Forum prior to ICSW 2017
Civil society organisations must engage in effective multi stakeholder partnerships if the Pacific region is to achieve the sustainable development goals.

This was a key highlight of the discussions held by more than 40 Pacific CSO reps on day 2 of the Pacific Regional CSO Forum 2017 held in Suva in late November 2017.
Organised by the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs and supported by the International Forum of National Platforms (IFP), the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) and the European Union, the meeting gathered NGO representatives from over 10 Pacific Island countries.

The meeting focused on SDGs, Multi stakeholders partnerships (MSPs) and South-south Cooperation on day 2 and provided a space for sub regional retrospective discussions on Pacific Islands Forum Leader’s decisions and policies on these issues.

Gap Between Policy and Implementation
PIANGO executive director, Emele Duituturaga said the meeting allowed CSOs to discuss and recognise the gap that existed in regional policy making and on-the-ground implementation.

“The focus group discussions allowed sub regional groups to acknowledge the disconnection between what was happening at the regional policy platforms and what CSOs were seeing on the ground. This in turn helped us to forecast the kind of support that was needed to ensure that SDGs would be realised in each of our island country,” Duituturaga said.

“We learnt during this session that the PIF’s Pacific SDG Taskforce had completed the Pacific SDG Roadmap and Implementation Strategy. We also heard from country representatives about the challenges they face as they attempted to work on SDGs in their countries.”

Earlier on day 1, participants collectively made submissions to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat highlighting policy areas of concern to be considered by Pacific leaders at their 2018 meeting in Nauru.

CSOs Submit Issues for Pacific Leaders 2018 Meet
Key issues included traditional governance, quality and affordable education, youth and women.
These issues were discussed with a representative from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Non-State Actors Programme at the meeting at the University of the South Pacific, Suva – days before the opening of the International Civil Society Week 2017
The forum included CSO representatives from Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Niue, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, PNG, Solomon Islands, Palau, RMI, FSM, Tuvalu and Kiribati.
Duituturaga said she was glad that PIFs was willing to carry out the consultations during the Forum and allowed submissions to be made by their national liaison unit representatives in Suva.

“CSO’s must use spaces as such to discuss regional policies and its impact and highlight the links and in this case, disconnections to their national and grassroots experiences,” Duituturaga said.

IFP SDG Support to PIANGO Invaluable
She said these discussions also helped to bring into focus areas which PIANGO will need to pay attention to in the coming months.

“Having these issues thrashed out clearly will help the PIANGO secretariat to strategically support our national liaison units this year.”
“For example, in this first quarter, we are planning at least 2 visits to Kiribati to discuss with the Kiribati Association of NGOs (KANGO) the kind of support they will need from us as they work towards their country National Voluntary Review report submission to the UN in New York in July.”

Duituturaga said IFP/FORUS support of PIANGO’s work on SDGs will be put to good use as they support national liaison units (NLUs) of Pacific countries that have volunteered for NVR such as Kiribati, Vanuatu and Palau.