He said a ceremonial welcome would be held tomorrow night before leaders meet on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss issues, including climate change, enhancing disaster preparedness and reducing cervical cancer in the region.
O’Neill said the global economy faced the most uncertain period in recent history, making this a particularly important summit for the region. “The global economy is under pressure and we are seeing an increase in climate induced disasters, so this is a time when countries of like-mind must work together,” he said.
“When we look around the Asia-Pacific economy we see a slowdown in major markets and uncertainty in commodities.
“As a region, the Pacific will come together as partners to join our collective strengths.
“We have tremendous resources across our island nations and we need to work together to ensure that we get the best market advantage now and into the future.”
O’Neill said enhancing preparedness for disasters, particularly disasters that occurred as a consequence of climate change, would be an important topic of discussion between leaders.
“In our region we are seeing more climate-related disasters. This includes weather patterns, such as tropical storms and flooding in one part of the year then droughts and frost in other months,” O’Neill said.
“Our climate is more unpredictable than ever before and we must prepare for this to continue and be ready for worst case scenarios.
“We in the Pacific did not cause climate change, but we suffer because of it.
“As a region we must work together to build our collective capacity to be ready for these weather problems.”
He added that other meetings included the meeting of small island states today and the post-forum dialogue on Friday.