The CSO Forum will provide a valuable opportunity for CSOs to come together, consolidate views and plan how they can promote their messages to Pacific Forum Leaders and others.
“This year the Forum is special as the CSOs are meeting virtually”, said Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor.
“Civil society continue to raise issues that we all learn from and whilst our region is going through unprecedented times with COVID-19, their views are particularly important. People from civil society have a unique perspective on what is happening in the region, this is important to enrich regional debate and helps to influence what the policy decisions should be for the leadership of this region”.
There has been an overwhelming response by Pacific CSOs to participate in the Forum despite the ongoing challenges they are facing due to COVID-19. Their virtual participation in the Forum reflects CSOs determination to engage.
The CSO Forum is in its sixth year and will inform a collective position on the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ prioritised agenda. This year’s Forum will see CSOs discussing COVID-19 and their on-the ground assessments of how communities and networks have responded to the impacts of the pandemic.
Reflecting on the outcomes of the CSO Forum to date, Dame Meg Taylor said “inclusivity is a basic tenet of the Framework of Pacific Regionalism. I am very pleased with our progress in formalising this process and ensuring that Pacific voices contribute to the regional policy development process”.
Participants will consolidate collective positions and assess how they can best advocate around resilience, security and gender sensitive approaches when responding to COVID-19 in the region. They will also identify how they can effectively support policy implementation within civil society networks, and with government, CROP agencies and development partners.
The annual Regional CSO Forum is part of the European Union funding under EDF11 through PIFS to support NSAs and CSOs (including women’s groups). The focus is more effective participation in regional policy making, as well as strengthening civil society engagement in the monitoring of gender equality and violence against women and girls.
CSO representatives this year are from Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, RMI, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.