Pacific countries want more say in development decisions
A Pacific religious leader says Pacific countries need to have more say in development decisions that affect them.
There is a call for Pacific Island communities to have more say in the development of their countries.
The head of the Pacific Conference of Churches has given the key note address at the meeting of the Pacific Islands Association of Non Government Organisations being held in Fiji.
Reverend Francois Pihaatae told Don Wiseman that Pacific peoples' cultural values and traditions need to be considered in development decisions.
REVEREND FRANCOIS PIHAATAE: I think the existing development plan or process in the Pacific is only something thought somewhere else or set in somewhere else and just come and implemented in our context in the Pacific and without taking into account some of our values, like cultural values, and best cultural values that have been put aside, like say the Pacific Plan actually. And that is why we want to, in the future, if we think about development, the cultural values of each nation or island where we live in the Pacific should be taken into account.
DON WISEMAN: It's the sort of claim one would certainly associate with the colonial era but would imagine that sort of imposition from outside had started to disappear, but you're saying that is not the case?
FP: Yeah, I would say that is not the case. I think if we talk politically, there is a new kind of colonialism where still some of our independent states in the Pacific are still under that kind of neo-colonialism through economic growth.
DW: This regional leadership up till now has come from the likes of the Pacific Islands Forum but are you suggesting a different approach, one that doesn't involve the likes of Australia and New Zealand?
FP: If you talk about the Pacific Islands Development Forum for the best input of the Pacific and the process we are in now it can be done among the Pacific people first. That is not to exclude anyone who wants to contribute to that but let the people of the Pacific talk first on this issue and then we will see how we will approach or embrace. The main idea of putting this culture and cultural practice in the forefront is not a way to close the door to global actors to come in but first let us in the Pacific talk [about] our problem, how we can approach development in our Pacific and see how others globally can support us in that endeavour.
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