Last week’s meeting of the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) was keenly anticipated and came at a critical juncture for the region.

It was the first in-person meeting since Tuvalu in 2019. Since then, a lot has happened. The impacts of COVID-19 have disrupted Pacific economies and strained fragile health systems. Increasing geostrategic competition has brought enormous amounts of scrutiny to the region. And the potential split in the PIF that was triggered in February of last year, is a wound that just cannot quite heal.

Fiji markets itself internationally as “where happiness finds you”. PIF is headquartered in Fiji, and this was the first time since 2006, just months before now prime minister Frank Bainimarama’s coup, that the country has welcomed the Pacific leaders for a full meeting. In the interim, Fiji was suspended (2009) and reinstated (2014) and Bainimarama had declined to attend leaders’ meetings until 2019 – so this regional summit carried symbolism for the hosts in an election year.

Please click here to read the full “Smiles in Suva: The 51st Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting” article published at DevPolicyBlog, written by Griffith Asia Institute’s Pacific Hub Lead, Dr Tess Newton Cain and Industry Fellow, Stefan Armbruster.