SYDNEY, September 23, 2021, A new World Bank report on the challenges facing communities in the outer islands of the Pacific region identifies investing in people and livelihoods as the key to inclusive economic growth.
Archipelagic economies: spatial economic development in the Pacific examines the challenges Pacific governments face in providing services and infrastructure to people across hundreds of islands spanning the vast Pacific Ocean. The report proposes a series of practical steps that countries can take to overcome these challenges in order to support resilient and inclusive economic growth.
“Many countries in the Pacific face significant challenges in delivering services and connecting remote and peripheral island communities; with difficult decisions about resources and how best to invest often limited resources in the communities of the outer islands ”, said the lead author of the report, World Bank Chief Economist for Fiscal Policy and Sustainable Growth Robert Utz.
“This report aims to provide Pacific governments, development partners and policymakers with evidence to assess options to foster development for the people of these outer islands, so that they can make a stronger contribution to greater economic development. wide across the country. “
The report identifies six guiding principles of economic policy:
1) Policy solutions that seek to achieve equitable increases in living standards must be based on an understanding of the economic implications of the unique economic geography of the Pacific region.
2) The development of the outer islands must be assessed from a spatial point of view; one that considers interactions with the country’s main island and the region beyond.
3) A balanced approach that combines investments in urban areas to accommodate migration from the outer islands to the main islands with support to the populations of the outer islands is likely to achieve better outcomes in terms of well-being and equity than an approach that neglects one side or the other.
4) Growth-promoting investments should be guided by clearly identified opportunities, rather than a desire to try to equalize economic opportunities between islands.
5) With limited scope to bridge the economic opportunity gap between outer and main islands, investments aimed at promoting livelihoods and human development should be prioritized.
6) The outer islands are subject to a complex political economy of intra-island and outer islands-main islands relations which must be taken into account in development interventions.
“This is an important and timely study”, noted Denton Rarawa, Senior Economic Advisor, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. “The current COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need to address the institutional, service delivery and capacity gaps in Pacific countries. As we strive to increase vaccination rates and start thinking about how we would like to rebuild after the pandemic, I think this report has a lot to offer for the future of the Pacific, especially in our efforts to not leave no one behind. “
The Archipelagic economies report is a companion publication to the World Bank Pacific Possible series which, in 2017 and 2018, examined opportunities for economic growth in Pacific island countries in key sectors, including tourism, fisheries and labor mobility.
The World Bank works in partnership with 12 Pacific countries, supporting 87 projects totaling US $ 2.09 billion in commitments in sectors such as agriculture, aviation and transport, resilience and adaptation to change climate, economic policy, education and employment, energy, fisheries, health, management, rural development, telecommunications and tourism.