Pacific leader says challenges demand long-term vision

7 September 2012

Dr Jimmie Rodgers speaking at the University's Pacific Forum
Dr Jimmie Rodgers speaking at the University's Pacific Forum

Jimmie Rodgers, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, has urged Pacific Island countries to think outside the box when dealing with the key challenges of the 21st century.

Speaking at a Sydney World Program Forum today, Dr Rodgers said there was no one-size-fits all solution for the problems facing the region.

"Each country in the Pacific must ask itself where it wants to be in the next thirty years," he said. "This will shape our response to the key issues we face, such as developing political independence and advancing gender equality in politics."

Citing the vision of the Pacific Plan, he said Pacific leaders must safeguard the future of the region through democratic governance and international cooperation. He called for an end to the politics of convenience which frequently brings together independent politicians with different agendas.

He said: "Parliamentarians must have long-term vision and prioritise accordingly. They must ask themselves what they can bring into politics, rather than what they can get out of it."

A citizen of the Solomon Islands, Dr Rodgers said his philosophy was to make a real difference to people's lives in the Pacific. Using the analytical horsepower of the Secretariat, he hopes to provide Pacific leaders with sufficient information to make the right decisions in government.

Dr Rodgers said that even with political independence, many countries in the Pacific will still be reliant on development assistance from the outside, perhaps forever.

He highlighted the importance of international partnerships such as the University of Sydney's Pacific Expert Group. He said: "It is important that we are included in these partnerships from the beginning so we can bring the agenda of our people into the dialogue."

Dr Rodgers emphasised the importance of looking to the past before moving towards the future, especially in the area of gender equality. "While we have made significant advancements by including women in politics and senior positions, we have not addressed the issues of men," he said. "We need a champion for men so that we can create a generation of better men."

The forum later split into workshops to discuss key regional issues. Professor Lee Burns, Chair of the University's Pacific Expert Group, said that despite the tyranny of distance in the Pacific, the forum would bring together key thinkers to discuss themes like foreign assistance, political independence, climate change and food security.

Contact: Richard North

Phone: 02 9351 3191

Email: 272a285c29592d67345e190d5d74154e065f56211c344f02664a39