There is a perception that the centre of gravity in terms of trade and security issues has shifted to the Pacific rim. With much of the discussion being defined by the big global players – the US and China – what does it mean for Island states? That was the question on everyone’s minds on June 14, 2012 when PiPP, in association with PACMAS.
Modelled on the BBC’s Doha Debate, the Pacific Debate aims to provide a unique space for frank and fearless discussions on important issues affecting the Pacific; and stimulates informed policy debate in the region. It is the leading think-tank forum that consists of prominent and leading thinkers in the region; and offers stimulating and thought-provoking discussions on a range of policy issues confronting the region.
Held at the Iririki Watermark Restaurant, Port Vila, the 2012 event brought together a select group of Pacific politicians, diplomats, students, development partners, business and non-government organisations, delegates to the ACP-EU summit and media to debate the topic ‘that in this Pacific Century and a new era of strategic contest, island states should be neutral’.
Panellists included Fijian agricultural economist and former diplomat and politician Kaliopate Tavola; American Samoan Congressman Eni Faleomavaega; representative of the State of Pohnpei to the Seventeenth Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia, Senator Peter Christian; and the former head of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Major General (retired) Jerry Singirok. The debate was hosted by the highly respected regional TV presenter, Tania Nugent and moderated by respected ni-Vanuatu development worker, Anna Naupa, a Geography Masters graduate from the University of Hawaii.
The event was filmed to be packaged into a one hour television special for free distribution to television stations worldwide. As a PiPP/PACMAS capacity building initiative, the production team was brought together from across the region, and comprised producers from Kundu 2 TV (NBC-PNG), Fiji Television Limited, Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation, Voices for Change Project; and Wan Smolbag Theatre.