PACER-Plus Pacific Trade Winds Consultation

Pacific Trade Winds Consultations - Suva, Fiji 18th-20th November 2010.

PANG and the organisers of the Pacific Consultation “Navigating Pacific Trade Winds” 18th-20th November 2010 arranged AFTINET’s attendance at the consultations.

On behalf of AFTINET the Trade Justice Campaigner, Harvey Purse, addressed two sessions. The first session was about the current state of play in the Australian political context and the second being on health/medicines. I also attended a media conference at the request of the organisers, along with Nick Braxton from New Zealand and Maureen Penjueli (PANG) and John Salong from Vanwinds.

The consultations were held at Novotel, Lami Bay in Suva. There was wide representation from the Pacific Island Countries, with Australia and New Zealand also represented. Representatives were made up of Civil Society groups (including Churches, Unions, Umbrella organisations, Women’s organisations, representatives of the Pacific Diaspora, Organic & other Farming groups, as well as Development groups), Academics and Community Based Business enterprises.

The first day of the consultations focused on the current politics and negotiations of PACER-Plus and started looking at alternates to it. Briefing sessions were held on the current political situation in the Pacific Island Countries and perspectives of the diaspora, the current political situation in Australia, the current position of the negotiations. There was also a traditional Talanoa discussion on what a Pacific view of alternates might be, and a further session about Ensuring Food Sovereignty outlining the threats form PACER Plus and citing examples of traditional approaches.

The first day set the scene for day two which focused on further key issues for the Pacific Island Countries. These included sessions on Land, Maintaining a Healthy Pacific, Pacific Livelihoods and finished with a power mapping session in preparation for the final day which was dedicated to strategic planning.

Day two also saw a media conference held which was attended by PANG, Oxfam New Zealand, AFTINET and VANWOODS. Media coverage was good with the conference receiving coverage in the Fiji press over three days and Fiji TV News on the day of the media conference. These stories are feed into other press throughout the Pacific and Fiji TV News goes out to most Pacific Island Countries.

The final day of strategic planning drew heavily on days one and two. Group work was the order of the day with examinations to identify research gaps, how to inject the Pacific Island Countries traditional economy into the debate, how to protect community economies and existing micro solutions along with potential alternates coming out of the experience of communities in the Pacific Island Countries. Also examined was the identity of key players and how they might be moved to become involved or move away from their existing positions.

The final session of the day looked more closely at actions and activities that could be done over the next few months and longer term. This included ideas on how to activate the Pacific Diaspora in Australia and New Zealand, research that needed to be undertaken, papers that needed to be completed on the existing solutions playing out such as micro-financing and community enterprises, further work on Pacific alternatives based on traditional economy, information on Australian and New Zealand companies with an interest, key dates in all countries and in the progress of the negotiations. The session also examined the capacity to undertake the work that was needed.

A number of presentations were made at the recently conducted Pacific Trade Winds Consultations in Suva - Fiji. They are available for download from our website by following the link to our PACER-Plus resources Page.