Book Launch

Introduction to Intemerate Accounting

Keynote Address by the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor at the Reweaving the Ecological Mat Project -Launching of Publications

Excerpt: ‘Reweaving the Ecological Mat Framework’ and ‘Ecological Economic Accounts -Towards Intemerate Values’ presents an alternative narrative that challenges the age-old position that all that exists is simply to serve human civilisation. It reaffirms the need to consider the full cost of ‘development’ beyond its contributions to the Gross Domestic Product of individual States – that is, the importance of considering its costs on our cultural values, social wellbeing and preservation of our natural environment.

The two publications contend that we need to move away from this and re-balance our narrative by infusing it with our Pacific consciousness and its inextricable link to our environment and cultural norms. This will allow us to embrace fit-for purpose economies that are scaled to our needs, sustaining communities and strengthening resilience through our traditional roles as stewards and custodians of our natural surroundings.

I am intrigued by the notion and possibility of not only exploring an alternative development pathway but adopting an ecological approach towards accounting for development. Indeed, this approach could eventually reorient our economic trajectory away from an over-reliance on foreign aid and financing which, in my view, has been a negative force for our island economies.

Ladies and gentlemen, regionalism is fundamentally about working together where it matters most. In reflecting on the publications today, perhaps one could offer that for our Blue Pacific Continent, the ecological biodiversity of our shared ocean space is where it matters most?

The ecology of our vast ocean, forests and natural environment underpins our wellbeing as Pacific peoples. Our cultural wellbeing is inseparable from our ocean ecology. Our food security is dependent on it. Our economies are driven by it, whether that be in the form of tuna fisheries, tourism, ecosystems or biodiversity. Therefore, if I were to reflect again on my initial question What is the future of our Blue Pacific region? Perhaps, an answer on the viability of our Oceanic future, could lie in the protection of and accounting for our shared ecological biodiversity.

An important first step to the protection or and accounting for our shared ecological biodiversity, is the securing of our maritime zones. To this end, I have had the distinct pleasure of joining the region in a collective discussion over the last week, to strategise the steps towards developing international law that would ensure that Members maritime zones are set in perpetuity and cannot be challenged or reduced as a result of sea-level rise and climate change. This journey is not a short one and will take years to crystallise and progress, however, collective and consistent advocacy will remain key to its success.