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UAE launches Pacific Islands Partnership Programme

posted on 19/02/2010: 984 views



Building upon the first visit of UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the South Pacific region in February 2010, the UAE has yesterday officially launched the "Partnership in the Pacific Program", formally inviting organizations from the South Pacific region to participate.

Discussed with Pacific Island leaders during the recent Ministerial visit, the program seeks to facilitate cooperation between the UAE and Pacific Island nations in the development of sustainable responses to the key social, environmental and broader developmental challenges affecting these countries.

Sheikh Abdullah's visit, as well as the partnership program officially launched yesterday, form part of the UAE's broader efforts to deepen its relations with the island states. During the five-day tour of the Pacific region that included Tuvalu, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau and the Kingdom of Tonga among others, Sheikh Abdullah held meetings with senior government officials and explored the possibility of identifying areas of bilateral cooperation, particularly on developmental issues as well as renewable energy.

The Program announces a 183 million dirham (US$50 million) fund that the UAE has established to finance specific projects and partnerships in the Pacific Islands in key areas, including education, social and health care services, as well as infrastructure and energy issues.

The UAE's focus on the island grouping is in response to the critical needs of these countries, which are on the front line of the battle against the impacts of climate change. Despite being the lowest contributors to this phenomenon, they are viewed as the most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.

According to HH Sheikh Abdullah, "This program is consistent with the UAE's long-standing record of international cooperation and its diverse foreign aid efforts which have been a key pillar of UAE President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan's international affairs strategy." With an active foreign policy portfolio, HH Sheikh Abdullah continued by saying, "the UAE is committed to developing partnerships and providing solutions to the island states of the South Pacific and is looking forward to closer engagement for meaningful and deeper ties." The partnership aims to assist individual countries in their own efforts to address social, economic and environmental issues. In the area of climate change, it seeks to establish a new model for country-to-country and country-to-region cooperation to address the domestic and cross-border impacts of climate change.

The partnership program will be overseen by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and will be managed by the government-owned Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, which has established nearly 200 individual projects in more than 50 countries since 1971.

Beyond financial partnership, the other key elements of the program include facilitating dialogue between key stakeholders; developing research and academic partnerships; as well as developing working mechanisms and capacity-building programs.

A number of other major developments were made during the Minister's recent visit. Like in Tonga, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Sheikh Abdullah and the HRH the Crown Prince of Tonga, Taouto'a-Lavaka, that pledged amongst other items to aid the Kingdom of Tonga achieve its 50 percent renewable energy targets.

During this key visit which marked a turning point for UAE relations with the nations of the South Pacific, His Highness was accompanied by Minister of State Reem Al Hashimy, Dr. Saeed Al Shamsi, the UAE Ambassador to Australia, Assistant Minister for Economic Affairs Khaled al Ghaith, Acting Director-General for Abu Dhabi Fund for Development Mohammed al Suwaidi and Group Vice President of Taqa, Abddulla Khunji, Mohammed Al Khaja from IPIC, as well as other diplomats from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Partnership Details. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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