Innovative solutions to improve the management of resources which we steward, is needed to address and combat the global challenges the world now faces. 
This was highlighted by the Fijian Government representative, Director Tourism Nanise Masau at the 2nd Ministerial Meeting of the Archipelagic and Island States Forum (AIS Forum) held at Manado, Indonesia on 1 November 2019.
Ms Masau said that with the focus on ‘Marine Ecotourism’, the Forum provided a unique platform where participants discussed and shared how best to promote a blue economy and further develop the marine ecotourism industry.  
“It is also an opportune time for leaders and policy makers to discuss regional issues, goals and aspirations. Pacific Island Countries and the Small Island Development States are rich in marine resources and have great potential for economic development given the vast EEZ. Yet, we are also confronted by obstacles such as geographic isolation, lack of infrastructure, and above all, extreme vulnerability to climate change that can wipe out huge portions of our islands and Gross Domestic Products,” said Ms. Masau.
Ms Masau added that Fiji played a leading role in the Pacific and even at the global stage to encourage larger, developed economies to take urgent and dramatic action to combat climate change –– a crisis that threatens our very survival.
“As we work together we will help each other understand our unique needs and vulnerabilities and together work on solutions to combat the global challenges that threatens our environment, systems and lives.  Let us vigorously enhance practical cooperation and be good partners of win-win cooperation,” she said.
The empowerment of local communities was also encouraged through ecotourism as a vehicle for economic development and sustainable management of local marine resources.  Ecotourism was acknowledged as a growing niche market of many AIS member countries of which tourism contributed hugely to employment and GDP.
Steps by the Fijian Government and industry stakeholders to the protection of our blue economy was also highlighted.  This included the adoption of new or revised environmental laws and best practices including a National Climate Change Policy, the Green Growth Framework and drafting of Fiji’s National Oceans Policy. 
Many tourism operators have also taken initiatives to protect marine biosecurity through on-going activities such as coral planting, breeding and release of endangered turtles, protection of giant clams, mangrove planting and many more. 
While acknowledging the importance of national efforts by AIS member countries in safeguarding our fragile ecosystems, Fiji called on the international community to join hands with national governments to take bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path forward.  This will help realize the noble sustainable development goals that include the protection of our oceans and natural resources.
The meeting was attended by representatives from 30 of the 47 participating countries which included Ministers, Heads of Organizations, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Development Forum and the Director General of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.  The meeting was preceded by a 2-day Start-up and Business Summit on 30 – 31 October. 

The AIS Forum aims to work on four areas of cooperation namely climate change mitigation and adaptation, blue economy development, combating marine plastic debris and the promotion of good ocean governance while the Summit focused on fostering business opportunities and partnerships among start-ups, established and investment communities.