The Melanesian Spearhead Group’s secretariat is holding discussions on a ‘Melanesian Bubble’ initiative.
Talks at the secretariat in Port Vila come as MSG member states struggle with economic strains caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the MSG’s five full members – Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s Kanaks – regionalism had become a tired notion, subject only to lip service in recent years.
But now, with growing challenges from Covid-19, the group is placing serious emphasis on regional re-integration in the immediate future.
The acting Director General of the Secretariat, George Hoa’au, said there was a focus on border control.
It requires a regional commitment to agree on safety measures to ensure that MSG members’ airlines continue to facilitate ease of travel for MSG nationals between their states.
Mr Hoa’au said a ‘Five Point Sustainability Plan’ was being developed to ensure members were resilient to the challenges caused by COVID-19.
Its five areas of specific focus are: (1) Health Networking and Visibility, (2) Education, Social and Family Connectivity (3) Economic Recovery, (4) Sports and Recreation and (5) Traditional Agriculture and Food Security.