It has been said in some quarters that we are now in the Pacific century, and recent global events have shown that this may well be the case. Geo-political interest in the Pacific is returning to levels not seen since the end of the Second World War. What was once a region struggling to be heard, is now one that is being courted.
The need for a truly independent Pacific voice has never been greater.
In this rapidly changing environment the norms of political and economic engagement are being re-written on an almost daily basis. This has enormous implications for everybody, ranging from the smallest Pacific island to our larger Antipodean neighbours. Nobody knows for certain how the emerging roles and influences from both the Asian subcontinent and also the Middle East will manifest in our region, but those of us who live here know that it is already happening and moving at a pace. The scramble for mineral and marine resources may further exacerbate this struggle.
All of this befalling a region that is still finding its own identity. At every level there are serious challenges. Is the Pacific a single region, or three distinct regions that need to face these challenges separately? How do the Melanesian states combine the need to meet the challenges of the 21st century internationally, whilst dealing with domestic issues and challenges that have their roots deep in their past? How will the recent increased geo- political interest affect the relationship between the Micronesian countries and the United States? Can small Polynesian microstates possibly be expected to operate effectively in such a complex political environment?
The challenges and opportunities for the Pacific are indeed great. In order to meet these challenges, and hopefully make the best of the renewed interest in our region, it is important that our people, leaders and decision makers have access to as much information as possible. This information needs to be provided in a meaningful way that is readily understood and able to help them in their deliberations.
It is therefore a great honour for those of us on the Board of PiPP to see how this young organisation has grown quickly to fill this need. We all understand the very great responsibility that lie on its young shoulders, and congratulate the executive and staff for their incredible achievements in such a short time frame. I hope for the sake of all of us who live in Pacific that we shall continue to see PiPP grow from strength to strength.