MEDIA RELEASE: Pacific Regional and National Security Conference Highlights Key Security Challenges and Collaborative Approaches

Pacific Regional National Security Conference (PRNSC) delegates.

Suva – The first day of the Pacific Regional and National Security Conference, hosted at the Pacific Islands Forum, highlighted critical security issues facing the region and emphasised the importance of collective action and unity among Pacific nations.

Key discussions on day 1 featured a diverse range of sessions on national security, maritime resources, women in peacebuilding, cybersecurity threats and the impact of climate change on national security.

Summarising the day’s discussions, Director of the Pacific Security College, Professor Dave Peebles, echoed Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka’s call for “peace and unity” in his vision for the Pacific.

“Prime Minister Rabuka emphasised enduring peace within the Pacific and the concept of ‘Common Wealth’ as a framework for collective identity,” noted Prof Peebles. “Our ‘ocean of peace’ reflects our shared heritage and commitment to mutual support.”

Pacific Islands Forum (PIFs) Secretary General Baron Waqa described the Pacific nations’ interconnectedness with the metaphor of a woven mat. “Each member of the Pacific Islands Forum forms a strand of a great and powerful regional mat,” Waqa explained, highlighting shared experiences and collective solutions.

National Security Strategies: The national security panel emphasised the political nature of security strategies and the need for broad-based government and community involvement. “These strategies must be living documents, not just shiny pieces of paper gathering dust,” said Maara Tetava, National Security Advisor of the Cook Islands.

Maritime Resources and Climate Change: The impact of climate change on the Pacific’s tuna resources was a significant topic. “Houston, we have a problem,” said PIFS SG Baron Waqa, underscoring the geopolitical challenges affecting maritime resources. James Brennan, a PhD candidate, added, “a healthy maritime environment is crucial for food, economic, and national security.”

Women in Peacebuilding: The women, peace, and national security panel spotlighted the vital role of Pacific women in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. “Peacebuilding is a bus, an intergenerational bus. We’re all on this ride together, just boarding at different stops,” noted Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, Programme Manager of the Pacific Women Mediators Network. The panel advocated for greater inclusion of women in security leadership roles.

Cybersecurity Threats: The cybersecurity panel discussed the rapid evolution of digital threats, emphasising the need for coordinated national, regional, and international responses. The cybersecurity panel also highlighted the urgent and evolving nature of digital threats, exacerbated by rapid advancements in artificial intelligence. Legislative frameworks must be reformed to keep pace with emerging cybercrime types. However, effective donor coordination remains a significant challenge. To mitigate these threats, the panel called for a clearer articulation of capability and capacity needs and more robust coordination of international support. “Cybersecurity is a journey, not a destination,” remarked one panelist.

Climate Change and Future Preparedness: The panels discussed addressing the challenge of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold, and the likeliness of this target not being met. They agreed that we must prepare for a future beyond this benchmark.

As the conference continues, participants will delve deeper into these critical issues, exploring practical solutions and strengthening the bonds that unite the Pacific community.

“This gathering is a vital step towards a resilient and secure Pacific. Our discussions today lay the groundwork for stronger, more effective regional cooperation,” concluded Professor Peebles.

– Ends –

For further information, please contact:

Cheerieann Wilson, tel: 679 7589065 whatsapp: +679 7589065 Caitlin Welch, Pacific Security College: tel: 679 289 5088 what’s app: +61 452 463 646

For video footage and photos from the Pacific Regional and National Security Conference please contact:

Caitlin Welch, Pacific Security College: tel: 679 289 5088 what’s app: +61 452 463

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