Pacific Islanders in the majority at SPC

Community, Noumea, New Caledonia — MORE Pacific Islanders now work at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the region’s oldest and largest development agency than in previous years, its Director-General, Dr Jimmie Rodgers, told senior foreign affairs officials from its 26 Pacific and metropolitan member nations at the opening of SPC’s annual meeting in Noumea, New Caledonia today.

Mrs. Fekita ‘Utoikamanu, SPC’s Deputy Director-General (Suva) and Director of the Education, Training and Human Development Division.

Out of 547 people employed by SPC in all of its locations in Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, New Caledonia and Solomon Islands, the majority — 69% or 379 people — are Pacific Islanders.

The organisation is also making strides with the gender balance of its workforce, with nearly half (49%) of all positions held by women.

‘Given that the recruitments are based on merit, it is an indication of the skills sets that Pacific Islanders have to be able to hold positions in SPC,’ said Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, SPC’s Deputy Director-General (Suva) and Director of the Education, Training and Human Development Division.

Mrs ‘Utoikamanu, who hails from Tonga, added: ‘This is a positive development for the Pacific. It shows that our people are playing an active role in the development of their region.’

Senior government officials from 22 Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), as well as those from Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States, have gathered today at SPC’s headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia, for the 41st meeting of SPC’s Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA).  They will discuss key issues for the Pacific region, including economic development, the lifestyle disease epidemic and youth employment.

Representatives from regional and international development agencies, as well as international aid donors, are also attending the annual meeting that runs from 1 to 4 November, ahead of an SPC ministerial conference on ‘Climate Change and Food Security — Managing risks for sustainable development’ on 7 and 8 November.

Also on the CRGA agenda are presentations from SPC’s various divisions on the wide-ranging technical, research, educational and planning assistance the organisation has offered to PICTs in 2011 and a discussion of its programmes for 2012.

- SPC Press Release