The second summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) opened here on Thursday morning, gathering regional leaders of governments, civil societies and business circles to discuss green/blue growth, partnership and cooperation, governance, among others.
In his speech, Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama called for Pacific solutions "by Pacific islanders for Pacific Islanders, forged in conjunction with our development partners but with genuine consultation."
While pointing out the fact that the sea levels caused by global warming are threatening the very existence of some of Pacific islands such as Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands and already swamping the coastal areas of many Pacific nations including Fiji, he lamented that the collective will of the global community to adequately address this crisis is receding.
He appealed to Australia and other countries not to behave selfishly over the catastrophic prospect facing Small Island Developing States.
"History will judge you harshly if you abandon us to our apparent fate of sinking below the waves because you don't want to make the necessary adjustment to your domestic policies," he said.
The prime minister also extended special welcome to those representatives "who have found a voice in the PIDF for the first time, having been excluded from the 'governments only' Pacific Islands Forum."
He stressed that the PIDF is a platform for the "genuine voices of the grassroots in our Pacific societies," where the welfare of the ordinary men and women of the region will be uppermost in the delegates' mind.
The prime minister lauded the development of the PIDF since its first summit last year.
This year's summit, themed "Green Growth in the Pacific: Building Resilient Sustainable Futures and Genuine Partnership Partnerships," gathers about 400 high-level participants from more than 10 Pacific island governments, civil society and business circles as well as observers from nations such as Morocco, Venezuela, Israel, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Kuwait and Georgia.
The prime minister also thanked Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for his presence at the summit, who delivered a key note speech as chief guest.