The Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) was visited by a high level delegation from Belgium led by the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Didier Reynders, who acknowledged that they stand ready to support areas of mutual collaboration especially in regards to climate change action, sustainable oceans and to support continued efforts of PIDF in the Pacific region on matters pertaining to sustainable development through an inclusive and multi-stakeholder approach.

The courtesy visit allowed PIDF Deputy Secretary General, Mr Penijamini Lomaloma the opportunity to provide an update on major accomplishments and strategic pathways forward to achieve PIDF’s mandated responsibilities. The Deputy Secretary General also enlightened the delegation on the outcomes of Leaders’ Summit held in Honiara, Solomon Islands in 2016.

An update was also presented on preparations for observing the Pacific Year of the Oceans in 2017 in recognition of the importance of the ocean to our nations’ economies, and our people’s health and cultures while dealing with threats posed to our oceans by over-harvesting of resources, sea-based  pollution,  the  impacts  of  climate  change  on  the  ocean’s  ecosystems  and  our  people’s  livelihood.

“We had productive discussions during the meeting with HE Reynders visit especially on the role of PIDF as Pacific SIDS and South-South platforms, as well as the potential for closer collaboration with Belgium” said Deputy Secretary General Lomaloma.

“We also had the opportunity to express our gratitude to Belgium as it was one of the UN members that co-sponsored the UN resolution on PIDF becoming a UN Observer,” he further added.

An overview was given on the strategic directions and recent activities of PIDF while building the new regional organisation structure, processes and staff over the year. Mention was also made of the Guidance Note developed for the pacific leaders during the COP22 held late last year in Marrakech.

HE Reynders also shared his country experience and agreed that there are potential areas of collaboration in the area of building climate resilience and sustainable oceans.

“We are quite open to support PIDF projects in the Pacific region” said HE Reynders.

An invitation for participation to an upcoming conference on oceans in Otend, Belgium in March this year was also extended to PIDF by the Hon. Deputy Prime Minister.  He acknowledged the work that has been implemented by PIDF within the Pacific region and pledged support on areas of possible mutual cooperation for future projects as aligned to the PIDF Strategic Plan.

Although this was the first official visit by a high level delegation from Belgium, it was represented in the inaugural Leaders’ Summit held in 2013 and also in the 2015 summit held in Suva.