The outgoing secretary general of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Dr Jimmie Rodgers, says after eight years at the helm, he is leaving an organisation that has doubled to twice the size during his tenure and won greater respect around the region.
Dr Rodgers finishes up in January and will be replaced by Dr Colin Tukuitonga.
Dr Rodgers, who is a Solomon Islander, says when he started as head of the organisation it was facing pressure that it be absorbed into the Pacific Islands Forum.
But instead the SPC itself took over the other regional agencies - namely the Pacific Geoscience Commission and the Pacific Board for Educational Assessment.
Dr Rodgers told Don Wiseman that as a result the SPC has become much stronger.
JIMMIE RODGERS: We have been positive all along. Our focus at the SPC has been to try and achieve a win-win solution - win for those organisations that will be merged together with us and their staff and win for SPC, but finally a win for the members because we should be providing much better, more co-ordinated services at a much more reliable and faster rate. And I think we have achieved all those. I think SPC as an organisation has become much, much stronger. It's attracting a lot more attention. The resource base has expanded, we have more partners that would like to work with us for the Pacific, and there's huge commitment by all our members, the founding members - Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States - but also the island members.
DON WISEMAN: Where to now for you?
JR: It's a good question. I guess i will be heading back to the Solomons. That's the first point of call. And the question I guess when I get back there - assess the lay of the land and look at areas where I might easily provide assistance to Solomon Islands.
DW: Would you imagine going back to your medical work?
JR: Yeah. Well, that's not out of the question, but I'm not sure I'm that safe anymore.
DW: You haven't done it for such a long time. (Chuckles)
JR: That's right. I basically left the country as an anaesthetist - I had my training in New Zealand as an anaesthetist. But I also managed the health service in the Solomons before I joined the SPC. So I'd be able to assist more probably at the advisory, administrative, management area level in the Solomons. If there was a need for that i'd be happy to work there. But there are other broader development areas. I think one of the things with SPC, having been at the senior level, is the more generic area of building relations, partnerships, looking at more strategic positioning and setting the direction of the organisation going forward. And I could see that being very useful in reviewing where, for instance, the ministry of health is going and how we might actually be able to contribute to setting a strategic direction for the ministry of health and say how do we want health in the Solomons to look in, say, 20, 30 years? Or how do we want Solomon Islands as a country to look in 20, 30 years? And then use that as a basis for trying to position ideas, incentives and plans that might actually be helpful in achieving those answers to those questions.