Climate change, economic development and Fiji are expected to top the agenda at the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns this week.
Fifteen heads of government as well as more than 450 delegates will take part in the three-day forum, which starts today and is being held on Australian shores for the first time in 15 years.
Fiji has not been invited - member nations voted to suspend the country after military commander Frank Bainimarama abandoned plans to hold democratic elections.
Aid group Oxfam says the leaders of New Zealand and Australia need to take urgent action on climate change to prevent the destruction of several island nations.
Oxfam Australia executive director, Andrew Hewett, says many smaller nations, some standing just a few metres above sea level, are already feeling the effects of climate change.