• The World Bank in Pacific Islands

    Eleven Pacific Island countries are members of the World Bank and have a combined population of about 2.3 million people, scattered across an area equivalent to 15% of the globe’s surface.


    Pacific Island member countries (excluding Papua New Guinea):

    ·         Fiji

    ·         Kiribati

    ·         Marshall Islands

    ·         Micronesia, Federated States of

    ·         Nauru

    ·         Palau


    ·         Samoa

    ·         Solomon Islands

    ·         Tonga

    ·         Tuvalu

    ·         Vanuatu


    The World Bank’s Pacific Island member countries have a population of about 2.3 million people, spread across a unique and diverse region made up of hundreds of islands, and scattered over an area equivalent to 15% of the globe’s surface.

    There is great diversity within the region from Fiji, which is the largest country of the group with a population of around 880,000, to Tuvalu and Nauru, with estimated populations around 10,000 each; making them the World Bank Group’s smallest members by population. Kiribati is one of the most remote and geographically-dispersed countries in the world, consisting of 33 coral atolls spread over 3.5 million square kilometers of ocean; an area larger than India.

    Each of these countries share similar challenges and opportunities as small and remote island economies. They are small in size with limited natural resources, narrowly-based economies, large distances away from major markets, and vulnerable to external shocks; all of which can affect growth and have often led to a high degree of economic volatility.

    Pacific Island countries are also some of the most vulnerable in the world to the effects of climate change and natural disasters. According to the World Risk Report, five Pacific countries are among the top 20 most at risk countries in the world, with the highest average annual disaster losses scaled by gross domestic product.

    Sustained development progress will require long-term cooperation between governments, international development partners, and regional organizations. More broadly, greater economic integration, more equitable natural resource agreements, more open labor markets and adaptation to climate change will be vital for the long-term future of the Pacific Islands.

    Last Updated: Sep 25, 2018

  • The World Bank is scaling up its assistance in the Pacific Islands region with a significant increase in funds available through the International Development Association (IDA). A Regional Partnership Framework for nine Pacific Island countries (Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu) provides a roadmap for both regional opportunities and country-specific action plans for the next five years. 

    Fiji and Solomon Islands have individual strategies (a Country Engagement Strategy and Country Partnership Framework respectively). A new Country Engagement Strategy for Fiji is being developed and in June 2018 the World Bank released the Solomon Islands Country Partnership Framework 2018-2023.

    The World Bank Group’s engagement with these Pacific Island countries reflects the influence of the region’s economic geography on their development trajectories, with unique challenges arising from remoteness.

    After significant regional consultations and nearly two years of research, a comprehensive study called Pacific Possible looks 25 years ahead to quantify the impacts of potentially transformative opportunities and significant challenges for the Pacific Islands region, with seven focus areas: climate and disaster resilience, deep-sea mining, health and non-communicable diseases, information communications and technology, labor mobility, tourism and tuna fisheries.

    The findings presented in Pacific Possible aim to provide governments and policy-makers with specific insights into the potential impact of each focus area on the economy, employment, government income and spending.

    The World Bank is supporting rural development through a number of projects across the Pacific Islands, including the Rural Development Program in Solomon Islands. The project has helped hundreds of communities develop critical infrastructure, including footbridges, classrooms, health clinics and access to water and electricity.

    In the health sector, the World Bank is supporting some Pacific Island countries to strengthen government-led analysis, planning, budgeting, management and monitoring for more efficient and equitable health services.

    At the regional level there is a focus on sharing experiences and resource management lessons across countries for better front-line results, including for non-communicable diseases.  This includes practical examples for improving the efficiency and quality of expenditure, and addressing financing needs for health security.

    Transport, whether via road, air or water, is essential to the Pacific Islands region, to connect people to markets, schools, hospitals and family, often over vast distances of ocean. The World Bank is working with governments in Tonga and Kiribati through the Tonga Transport Sector Consolidation Project and Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project respectively, to improve the reliability and safety of transport networks. Through the Pacific Aviation Investment Program, KiribatiTongaTuvaluSamoaVanuatu and the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) are being supported to make air travel safer and more efficient.

    Information Communication Technologies (ICT) such as internet and phones, are also vital for connecting people and businesses in the Pacific Islands. Through the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program, people in the Federated States of MicronesiaSamoa and Fiji will all soon have access to more affordable and reliable internet.

    High population growth and high unemployment are now critical issues in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands. The World Bank is helping the Solomon Islands government to support the most vulnerable of Honiara's population; particularly youth and women, by providing short-term employment and training through the Rapid Employment Project.

    In the energy sector, the World Bank is working with the governments of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to increase electricity access for essentials such as lighting, phone charging and refrigeration. In Solomon Islands, KiribatiFijiTuvalu and the Republic of Marshal Islands, the World Bank is also supporting efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and fostering investment in renewable energy with the aim of increasing sustainability and affordability.

    The Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program (PROP) is a three-phased, multi-year regional initiative designed to help Pacific Island countries strengthen their collective ability to improve sustainable management of commercially important tuna fisheries and ensure that the benefits gleaned are equitably shared. PROP also helps Pacific Island countries sustainably manage their coastal fisheries and the critical habitats upon which they depend.  Currently, PROP is active in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. In FY19, Tonga, Samoa and Kiribati will join PROP.


    Last Updated: Sep 25, 2018

  • In natural disaster resilience, the recently approved PCRAFI Facility builds on eight years of regional collaboration through the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Insurance (PCRAFI) initiative. Through the pilot program, Vanuatu received benefits in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Pam in March 2015, helping the country rebuild and repair. Alongside disaster insurance, Vanuatu’s National Warning Centre, with the early warnings it provided helping to save many lives when Cyclone Pam struck.

    In the wake of Cyclone Gita in February 2018, the World Bank undertook a Rapid Damage Assessment in Tonga to assist with recovery and reconstruction planning. The World Bank was also called upon to lead the immediate damage assessment process following cyclones Pam (Vanuatu, 2015) and Winston (Fiji, 2016).

    Much of the Pacific region is increasingly impacted by climate change, and through the Pacific Resilience Program, projects are under way across the region to help strengthen Pacific Island countries’ resilience to natural disasters and climate change. In Kiribati, an adaptation program is working with communities to better prepare them for the impacts of climate change, including recently completed rainwater tanks for remote communities in North Tarawa, where sea level rise and drought have left many drinking wells contaminated.

    Clean energy projects are also having an impact in the Pacific with Vanuatu’s Rural Electrification Program subsiding solar kits for families and assisting families access the electricity grid, making electricity access a reality for 4,000 of Vanuatu’s lowest income families.

    The Solomon Islands Rapid Employment Project is providing short-term employment and training for urban youth and women in the capital, Honiara. By June 2017, the project had generated more than 748,650 days of work, paid US$3.1 million in wages and trained more than 12,600 people. The project has now grown and been extended until December 2018, to allow increased benefits for vulnerable groups both in Honiara and other urban areas.

    Internet connections across the Federated States of Micronesia and other parts of the Pacific are, by most international standards, incredibly slow. The Pacific Regional Connectivity Project is reducing the cost and increasing the availability of information and communication technology services needed to support social and economic development in the Pacific. This is one of the World Bank’s most significant infrastructure investment in the Pacific Islands over the past decade.

    The first phase of this work saw new fiber-optic connections constructed for Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, delivering broadband internet connections to tens of thousands across each country. The Second Phase of the project in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has led to the connection of high speed reliable internet to the states of Yap and Chuuk from the capital, Pohnpei. Through an International Development Association grant of US$63.5 million, the second phase of the project will link FSM’s dispersed states through submarine cable connections.

    In 2016, the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project officially opened an improved road network on South Tarawa, including works on the only main road through South Tarawa, which is used by the entire population of 50,000 people. The project is the largest infrastructure investment in the country since World War II. In Samoa, the country’s first four-lane, dual carriageway was also completed in 2016 on what is considered to be the country’s most critical stretch of road and in September 2018 the World Bank committed US$37 million to support the Samoan government’s work to make the nation’s road network more resilient to climate change and natural disasters.

    Agricultural production is an important issue for many Pacific Islands, as most of the population live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for food security and livelihoods. The Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project is supporting crop and livestock farmers to improve their productivity and take greater advantage of market opportunities. Important achievements include the importation of new sheep and cattle breeds to improve livestock production together with the introduction of new fruit and vegetable varieties to boost yields and diversify local diets.

    In Tonga, the Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning project has supported communities to organize play-based activities so children are better prepared for school. The project has also trained teachers to help improve learning results of students in the first grades of primary education, and seen the launch of the Laukonga Mo e Fanau’ (‘Read with your child’) campaign, which encourages Tongan families to commit at least 10 minutes each day to reading with their child.

    Last Updated: Sep 25, 2018


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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

All Pacific Islands Country Offices

Pacific Islands unit based in Sydney
(+61-2) 9223 7773
Level 19 14 Martin Place Sydney NSW 2000
Washington, +1 202-473-4709
1818 H Street, NW Washington, DC 20433