South Korea and Pacific Islands to Collaborate on Conservation and Development
Goals include protection and preservation of marine environments.
In addition to development, leaders of the nations came to an agreement to bolster cooperation on security.
“Korea and the Pacific Islands Forum, recognising shared universal values including freedom, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, including the right to development, will expand and strengthen solidarity and cooperation,” said the joint Declaration and Action Plan from the summit, according to a report from the Pacific Islands Forum.
The theme of the summit was “Navigating towards Co-Prosperity: Strengthening Cooperation with the Blue Pacific.”
“The Leaders acknowledge the need to strengthen development cooperation and security collaboration including maritime security, climate security, energy security, cyber security, human security, public health and transnational security,” said a joint statement by the 12 Pacific Island Forum (PIF) leaders and officials from 17 of the 18 members of the PIF that participated in the summit, along with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, as Reuters reported.
Situated in the Pacific ocean between Asia and the U.S., the Pacific Islands are made up of 15 independent nations spanning 15 million square miles of ocean.
South Korea said it supported the islands’ effort to protect their maritime zones, which are an essential source of revenue from fishing.
“[T]he Leaders will work together to protect and preserve the marine environment, promote maritime security and safety, and the lawful and sustainable use of the seas, and to enhance the capacity to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the region. To this end, the Leaders recognised the sovereign rights of Pacific Island Countries to implement zone-based measures to ensure the sustainable management of fisheries within their Exclusive Economic Zones in accordance with international law,” the declaration stated.
In the midst of concerns about China’s economic and security objectives with the island nations, Western allies have begun to increase their involvement with them.
“[P]eace and stability in the Pacific region are interlinked with global peace and stability,” the leaders said in the declaration.
The Pacific Islands’ summit with South Korea followed recent meetings with the U.S. and India.
“The Leaders reaffirmed their shared views on the criticality of keeping the ocean and maritime resources free of environmental pollution by radioactive wastes and other radioactive matter,” the declaration said. “The Leaders underlined their grave concern over the continuing threat of nuclear weapons proliferation and its risk to the peace and security of the planet; and stressed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons remains the shared goal.”
The 17 participating PIF members were the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Tonga, Kiribati, Palau, Niue, Nauru, the Cook Islands, Samoa, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand.
“The crisis of climate change, natural disasters, food, health, oceans and fisheries, which is directly linked to the survival and prosperity of Pacific island nations, can only be overcome through solidarity and cooperation,” Yoon said, as Al Jazeera reported. “I will firmly support the principle of a single Blue Pacific, which places importance on the role of the Pacific Islands Forum and the partnership of all member states, while deepening cooperation with Pacific island states.”