The World Bank has been scaling up its assistance in the Pacific Islands and is moving from a regional approach to individual country strategies to better acknowledge country-specific challenges and priorities. In recent years, the World Bank has developed specific country strategies for the Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu, with other Pacific Islands countries to follow.
The World Bank Group’s engagement with the Pacific Island countries reflects the fact that their development trajectories have been influenced by their economic geography, with unique challenges arising from remoteness.
The Bank is supporting rural development through several projects, including the Rural Development Project in Solomon Islands. The RDP has helped hundreds of communities develop critical infrastructure, like bridges, schools, health clinics and access to water and electricity.
In the health sector, the Bank is supporting Pacific Island countries reduce the rate of non-communicable diseases (also known as lifestyle diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease). The regional NCD Roadmap has been developed in partnership with governments and key stakeholders in the region.
With most Pacific Island countries comprising of low lying islands, they are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea level rise. Efforts to help Pacific Island nations promote adaptation to climate change will be essential to ensure long-term resilience and security. The Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Pilot uses risk pooling to help lower the cost of participating countries’ insurance while other projects in the region support natural disaster preparedness and mitigation.
Transport, whether via roads, air or water, is vital to Pacific Islands as it connects people to markets, schools, hospitals and family. In Tonga the World Bank is working with the government through the Tonga Transport Sector Consolidation Project. Through the Pacific Aviation Investment Program, Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu and now Samoa will also be supported to make air travel safer and more efficient.
High population growth and high unemployment has become a serious problem in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands. The World Bank is helping the government to assist the most vulnerable of Honiara's population, particularly youth and women, by providing short-term employment and trainings through the Rapid Employment Project.
In the energy sector, the Bank is working with the Government of Vanuatu to increase the number of households with access to electricity for things such as lighting or phone charging. In the Federated States of Micronesia the Energy Sector Development Project will support the government to increase the availability and efficiency of energy supply for the country.
In the mining sector, the World Bank is providing technical assistance to the Solomon Islands Government in reviewing policies and regulations. Activities include raising awareness of the importance of women’s role in the negotiation and management of royalties, and supporting Solomon Islands to sign up to the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative.
The Bank is supporting initiatives to improve access to telecommunications in countries across the region, through individual reform programs in Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa, Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Solomon Islands, and the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program, working to provide improved internet access across the region. These initiatives aim to help connect people and businesses to services, markets and information, regionally and beyond.
Pacific Island countries derive significant economic and social benefits from their marine resources. This is a major opportunity for the region: Twenty million square kilometers of the South Pacific are home to the largest tuna fishery in the world. The World Bank has developed a Fisheries Engagement Strategy to help Pacific Island countries capture a greater share of the benefits from their fisheries, while supporting conservation.