Pacific Islands Forum: Climate change and illegal fishing on agenda for Samoa meeting

Pacific Islands Forum: Climate change and illegal fishing on agenda for Samoa meeting

Pacific Islands Forum: Climate change and illegal fishing on agenda for Samoa meeting

Updated 4 September 2017, 12:00 AEST

Pacific leaders will attempt to form a collective voice on such varied topics as climate change, illegal fishing and labour mobility as they gather in Samoa for the annual Pacific Islands Forum.

Leaders from around the region will attempt to form a collective voice on such varied topics as climate change, illegal fishing and labour mobility as they gather in Samoa's capital Apia for the annual Pacific Islands Forum.

The official theme of this year's forum is The Blue Pacific: Our Sea of Islands, Our Security through Sustainable Development, Management and Conservation.

In an address to journalists ahead of the forum, Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the theme provided a new narrative for how the forum engaged with the world with a unified voice.

"By the sheer fact of our geography, such as trends associated with shifts in the centres of global power, this places the Pacific at the centre of contemporary global geopolitics," he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is due to arrive in Apia later this week ahead of the main event, the leaders' retreat, on Friday.

This year's gathering comes as the Australian Government pledges to renew its engagement with the region.

Last month in Suva, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told her regional counterparts the Australian Government is focused on three goals in the Pacific.

"We seek stronger partnerships for economic growth; we seek stronger partnerships for our security; and we seek to support relationships between our people," she said.

Pacific leaders will be looking to see how Mr Turnbull builds on the stated commitment to a renewed engagement with the Pacific.

The first event on the program is a meeting of the leaders of Small Island States group.

It began with a moment of silence to mark the recent death of Tony de Brum, the former foreign minister and climate change ambassador of Marshall Islands.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna said Mr de Brum was an important figure in the negotiations at the Paris climate talks in 2015.

"Tony de Brum was integral and a very important part of that united front that we the Pacific presented to the world," he said.