The fifth edition of the Pacific Sports Ministers took place in Apia ©Government of Samoa

Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa called for unified efforts to help combat climate change and boost sporting success at the Pacific Sports Ministers meeting in Apia.

The fifth edition of the meeting was held on the eve of the Pacific Games here in Samoa, which began yesterday.

Climate change is a major concern in the region, with several Pacific nations seeing their existence threatened by rising sea levels.

Samoa 2019 has also aimed to deliver a "green Games", with organisers vowing in April to be single-use plastic free.

The slogan adopted by the Greening of the Games Committee is "Beautiful Samoa – keep it clean and plastic free".

Fiame raised the subject of climate change at the Pacific Sports Ministers meeting.

"Honourable Ministers, climate change is the single greatest threat to our blue Pacific continent," she said.

"Let us all in a oneness of spirit through sport, determine and strategise how a Pacific Games climate challenge could be promoted, so that we are able to meet within the qualifying times, the commitments and contributions all of our countries have pledged to implement.

"Where excellence is enabled, the role of sport in showcasing national identity and shaping Pacific regionalism is powerful and cannot be understated.

"Sport has come a long way in the Pacific and our prowess in boxing, weightlifting, netball, rugby, especially the fast, fury and action packed sevens, continues to marvel nations globally, many of whom provide support for our peoples to compete internationally."

Fiame also called for the coordination of Pacific representation in regional and international sports organisations.

She asked for the forging of closer links with Oceania bodies such as the Commonwealth Games Associations.

Ministerial and senior officials were in attendance from American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Tahiti, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna.

Australia's recently appointed Minister of Sport, Richard Colbeck, was also among the attendees.

The Pacific Games Council, the Oceania Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (ORADO), the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC), the United Nations (UN) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat were also represented.

World Anti-Doping Agency and the Japan Anti-Doping Agency officials were in attendance, along with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the University of the South Pacific, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Oceania International Federation of Physical Education.

A post meeting statement outlined that Ministers had reaffirmed the need to further integrate sport into national policies to address challenges posed by non communicable diseases, promote healthy and clean environments and support young people.

Climate change was among the topics raised at the meeting ©Government of Samoa
Climate change was among the topics raised at the meeting ©Government of Samoa

The need to invest in data and statistics to assess the impact of sport to Pacific countries and their economies was also highlighted, along with the need to explore the development of a framework to monitor and evaluate policies, highlighting the contribution of sport to sustainable development in the Pacific.

The statement added that Ministers endorsed the importance of sport policies from the Pacific sport policy round-table.

They outlined the importance of resources and budget considerations in the development of national polices, the need to strengthen collaboration among key sports stakeholders and the link between sports and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

In particular, the goals in relation to healthy lifestyle choices, gender equality, job creation, empowerment of individuals, promotion of national unity and identity and traditional knowledge were targeted.

A proposal for a Pacific framework on integrity of sport for the Pacific was also noted, taking into account existing international frameworks while recognising the Pacific way of promoting, defining and protecting the integrity of sports.

The importance of financing to ensure protection of the integrity of sports, and efforts to fight against doping was also noted, as well as the need to ensure visibility of the Pacific at key meetings including the World Conference on Doping in Sport in November.

Ministers were also said to have recalled the decisions of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting in Nauru in 2018.

This saw the leaders note "the agreement of the 2018 Pacific Islands Sports Ministers Meeting to establish a Pacific Islands Sports Ministers' Secretariat".

This proposal included a new operational and funding model for the Pacific Games, as well as a review of the Pacific Games Charter and the host agreement with the Pacific Games Council.