The 22nd Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders Summit opened today (23.08.23) in Port Vila, Vanuatu as leaders from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji, and French territory New Caledonia, begin discussions on issues common to Melanesia.

After a welcome ceremony held at the Vanuatu Convention Centre and a resounding welcome by Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Hon. Ishmael Kalsakau, the 22nd MSG continued at one of Port Vila’s premier hotel, Warwick Le Lagon, opening with a plenary session where each leader made their statements.

Prime Minister Hon. James Marape immediately returned to his usual stand on Climate Change mitigation, interceding on behalf of the Small Island Nations of the Pacific, including those of Melanesia, by calling on industrialised nations of the region to make real interventions to assist these Pacific nations.

He also came out strongly in support of Vanuatu’s move to seek the opinion of the International Court of Justice on Climate Change impact on the people of the Pacific.

He said: “We all have interest in dealing with environmental issues, with Climate Change being big among us. We have development challenges; our need to ensure that genuine investors are not here just for today’s need but more importantly for the sustenance of our children after us. These challenges remain our collective voice, if we want to be heard today.

“We must continue to lead in our region so that our views are heard from within the context of Melanesia and the Pacific.

“I want to offer our support to Vanuatu’s leadership on the initiative to seek an advisory opinion on the International Court of Justice on matters of Climate Change through the United Nations through international law to protect the rights of future generations that are adversely affected. That is correct leadership and I commend Vanuatu.

“PNG believes that the holders of large carbon footprints must commensurate the carbon footprint with correct support to those with minimal carbon footprints.

“The combined size of our Blue and Green continent: we are the holders of two big assets on Planet Earth – our Blue Ocean and forests of the Island of New Guinea replenish Mother Earth.

“I call on China, the United States and Australia to make real interventions to the Small Island States in the Pacific,” said Prime Minister Marape.

Environment and Climate Change, security issues, and trade agreements dominated the discussions today. A Leaders’ Retreat will end the summit tomorrow for the leaders with an Outcomes Declaration signed at the end of the week.