An agreement renewed today will boost development in five Pacific nations and trigger action to address common priorities including youth employment, sanitation and fisheries management. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat(MSG) have extended until 2017 a Memorandum of Understanding which commits both regional bodies to collaborate to deliver much-needed services and technical assistance to the people of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Governance, shipping safety, forestry policy, sub-regional Sea Cucumber management and the promotion of healthy living and Melanesian culture are also among the areas of cooperation identified. Speaking at the agreement signing in Noumea, the SPC Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, welcomed the close, ongoing cooperation between the two organizations. “By sharing our respective expertise and creating joint programmes we can maximize the development outcomes and enhance the effectiveness of our work with, and for, our members and other partners as we tackle pressing issues facing the Pacific region,” Dr Tukuitonga said. The Director-General of the MSG, Peter Forau, said the agreement would reduce the opportunity for duplication of effort in addressing major, shared challenges and improve the efficiency of expenditure. ‘’At this critical time for development in the Pacific, I applaud this strengthened partnership with the region’s leading scientific and technical organization, the SPC, as together we stand to improve service delivery for the benefit of citizens of Melanesia and indeed for the entire Pacific region through sharing our knowledge and experience,” Mr Forau said. The original memorandum between the regional bodies was signed in July 2012. The 2014-17 memorandum was formalized on the final day of the 44th session of the Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations convened by the SPC in Noumea, New Caledonia. Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are members of both Pacific intergovernmental organizations. They are the largest Pacific Island countries in terms of land area, population and Gross Domestic Product, yet face multiple pronounced, shared challenges.