Cook Islands national consultations with UN Agencies

Oct 17, 2016

The UN Pacific Strategy consultation held at the USP Centre, Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Photo credit: UNDP/W.Lotfy/2016.

Close to a 100 participants attended the 2-day national consultations with UN Agencies in an effort to engage government and key stakeholders from various NGOS and the private sector in a consultative process to build linkages and to contribute national priorities in the development of the new UN Pacific Strategy 2018-2022. The discussions also placed significant importance on the comparative advantage and mandate of the UN in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Global Agenda. 

The consultations were held on 10th and 11th October, 2016, at University of the South Pacific Center.

UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Lizbeth Cullity, emphasized the role of the national consultations to reinforce and enhance the UN’s commitment to the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway for SIDs and to provide comprehensive support to the achievement of the SDGs in a consultative and participatory manner.

“In-country consultation is an indispensable component of the UN Pacific Strategy development process. A successful consultation will ensure that the new UNPS strategy is responsive to key regional and national development challenges, to be jointly addressed in partnerships with the government, private sector, civil society and other partners. The consultation is expected to foster national ownership and strengthen mutual understanding between the UN and its partners.” 

In the development of the Cook Islands National Strategic Development Plan, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Global Agenda provided a reference point and a framework in setting national priorities, remarked Mr. Petero Okotai, Director of Policy, Office of the PM.

Ms. Lavinia Tama of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Managements (MFEM), emphasized the important role of UN funded programmes to the Cook Islands in the areas of climate change and environment sector. 

“Based on analysis conducted by MFEM in the last three years we can see that the UN has contributed about $12,659,291 ($12.6million) from 2014/15 to 2016/2017, so this trend is increasing,” Ms. Tama pinpointed.

She added that, “the national consultations will greatly add value to programme management.”

Ms. Tama said the largest UN funding was allocated in the area of renewable energy. The National Sustainable Development Programme had set ambitious targets and GEF funded the Southern Group’s renewable energy projects.

The next biggest funding had been allocated to the Ridge to Reef project, with a special focus in the Pa Enua (outer islands), specifically the Southern Group.

Cook Islands is expected to graduate as a high income country in December 2017, and has created an air of uncertainty amongst national officials pertaining to accessing Official Development Assistance (ODA) in bilateral arrangements. However, they were reassured that accessing global climate change adaptation funds should not be affected while exploring sumultaneously other funding routes. 

The Ministry of Finance has been accredited for the Adaptation Fund (AF) in May 2016 as implementing agency, hence improving national capacity and building reciprocal trust of national institutions with the international community.

The consultations gave due recognition of the critical role of civil society and private sector in national development and as such the role NGOs are reflected in the 2015 Development Coordination Policy. 

Cook Islands have now appointed a UN Coordination Officer, Ms Patricia Tuara who will act as a direct link between UNDP and Cook Islands, as well as the focal point for UN agencies. She is also a member of the National Aid Coordinating Agency, and has started work to review some of the UNDP projects.