Thank you to you, President Germain, for your very warm welcome and also the traditional customary welcome afforded to us this morning.
Can I thank you, President Heine, Mr Amano and Monsieur Lamy, for your considered and insightful presentations.
Can I also acknowledge the many distinguished leaders and representatives of our Pacific family.
It is a pleasure to be here to participate in regional discussions and of course, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Pacific Community.
The theme of this 10th conference of the Pacific community is Innovative Partnerships for Sustainable Development and it highlights the importance of regionalism and opportunities for modernisation.
I would like to congratulate the Pacific Community on concluding a new partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
This achievement demonstrates what can be done when innovation and collaboration come to full fruition.
We look forward to hearing about implementation into the future.
I also commend you for your blue-sky thinking in new areas, including for a Pacific Hub for Learning and Innovation and a Pacific Community Centre for Ocean Science.
We look forward to further detail on the structure, objectives, performance measures and budgets to allow full consideration of the proposals in the context of the Pacific Community Strategic Plan 2016-2020.
Australia would urge the Pacific Community to work closely with other Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific agencies, other donors, the multilateral banks and others in developing your ideas.
Above all, in the context of tightening resources, as the outgoing Chair reminded us, duplication should be avoided. And can I echo the comments that were made by President Heine and Prime Minister Puna in that regard.
As per our Conference theme, partnership is key.
No one country has all the answers, but there is value in sharing our experiences.
Mr Chairman, speaking of our experience, the Australian Government has embraced an agenda of innovation. This includes in our foreign affairs and overseas development assistance framework.
The Australia-Pacific Community Partnership Arrangement is a prime example of Innovative Partnerships for Sustainable Development. A fundamental part of this is providing over half our funding as "core funding" to the Pacific Community. This provides flexibility, allowing member countries and territories to determine how best to use the funds.
Our provision of core funding makes our partnership truly "inclusive." It means that the Pacific Community has the resources to pursue innovation flexibly and to respond to members' needs. Australia urges all partners to consider such a funding arrangement and the capacity it provides the Pacific Community.
Australia has endeavoured to bring innovation to the forefront of our overseas development assistance program. A little over two years ago, my department established the InnovationXchange. It is designed to catalyse and support innovation across the development program. The InnovationXchange uses a range of innovative methods - for example, ideas challenges.
This is where we call on innovators, entrepreneurs, NGOs and others to rethink old problems and brainstorm new ones. Challenges are a very good way of opening up to new ideas.
One of our early challenges was the Pacific Humanitarian Challenge. I was privileged to meet the winners of that Challenge, including a team with an idea for using drone imagery in support of recovery efforts following disasters.
I am pleased that Australia has since been able to support the development and application of the drone project in partnership with the GeoSciences Division of the Pacific Community. A truly innovative partnership.
Our innovationXchange has also pioneered working with the private sector and philanthropic organisations, developing innovative products and services.
I also want to acknowledge the good work of other members in the room and highlight the real results we are delivering for the people of the Pacific. For example, we are partnering with Sustainable Solutions Global on "Tupaia", a digital supply system which provides the opportunity to enable real-time visibility of medical supplies in the Pacific. This has resulted in improved medical supply and reduced unit costs in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tonga, Papua New Guinea.
We are also co-funding with the Green Climate Fund to realise projects such as the Tina River Hydropower project in the Solomon Islands.
And we are working with fourteen Pacific Island National Meteorology Services to develop and implement innovative products and services, to make seasonal forecasts and to measure sea level rise.
Mr Chairman, I would continue as there are so many innovative examples; however, we have a full agenda to work through.
May I once again commend you, Director General and the Pacific Community, for all your work and for your commitment to innovative partnerships.
I look forward to working together throughout today and tomorrow on innovative partnerships that support sustainable development for the Pacific.
Thank you for your kind attention.
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