The 22nd Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders’ Summit and related meetings commenced in Port Vila with the Pre-Summit Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) from 19th – 20th August followed by the Foreign Minister’s Meeting (FMM) today (21.08.23).

Vice Minister assisting the Prime Minister on State Matters Hon. Muguwa Dilu, MP is representing Papua New Guinea at the FMM, as Prime Minister Hon. James Marape is expected to fly into Port Vila tomorrow, Tuesday (22.08.23) to join the rest of the heads of MSG countries for the official opening ceremony, and plenary sessions on Wednesday, and Leaders Retreat on Thursday.

Having been forced into a hiatus over the last five years because of COVID-19 and competing leaders’ schedules, the 22nd MSG is being convened and appropriately themed “Being Relevant and Influential”, as it takes on shared development issues and common challenges confronting MSG member states of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and FLNKS (Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front), including Indonesia as an Associate Member.

Today’s FMM opened with statements from Fiji, Solomon Islands, PNG, Vanuatu, FLNKS, and Indonesia, before moving onto a ‘Closed Session’ where in-depth concerns were raised and discussed that included environment and climate change, security issues, and trade agreements, besides an operational report from the MSG Secretariat.

Vice Minister Dilu said in his opening statement: “We must take ownership of development issues and provide leadership in pursuing the objectives of the MSG. This effort must begin with making sure the Secretariat concentrates on its core business, and that resources are expanded equitably across important sectors of the MSG countries. Hence, the theme resonates well, the need for the MSG to remain focused and bolster the efforts towards the common goal of building a stronger and resilient MSG family that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of its people.

“MSG must provide market opportunities, empower its people and strategically open up the MSG region, wherever possible to the world to seize economic opportunities to building back better economic resilience post COVID-19 through strategic economic partnership.”

A Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) held on Friday (18.08.23) deliberated on the agenda before presenting the Outcomes to the FMM for endorsement and presentation to the Leaders on Wednesday.

An Outcomes Declarations will be signed at the end of the week by the Leaders, including a Declaration on Climate Change and Concord for Peace, Mutual Respect, Cooperation and Amity.