SUVA, May 4, 2017 – The World Bank’s new Resident Representative for Fiji says the role Fiji is now taking on the global stage provides it with a huge opportunity in the coming years, particularly in leading the fight to address climate change.
Lasse Melgaard, the World Bank’s new Resident Representative for the South Pacific, will oversee the World Bank’s current and planned projects in Fiji, as well as Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu, with total commitments of US$660 million across the six countries – a number that is expected to rise significantly in the coming years.
A national of Denmark, Mr. Melgaard brings two decades of development experience to Fiji, having worked on programs in China, Mongolia, Korea and Vietnam. His most recent assignment was to coordinate the World Bank’s work in the South Pacific from the World Bank’s office in Sydney, Australia.
The World Bank’s presence across the South Pacific will grow significantly in the coming years under Mr. Melgaard’s tenure, with an anticipated tripling of the amount of investments, through grants and concessional loans.
Mr. Melgaard’s arrival coincides with work getting underway on a new ‘hub’ for the South Pacific. Located in Suva’s FNPF Plaza, the new office is currently being fitted out to accommodate a substantial increase in Fiji-based staff who will provide technical expertise for the region while cementing stronger partnerships with key regional institutions and organizations based in Fiji.
“Fiji is now looked on by many in the region and internationally as a leader in regional collaboration and coordination, as well as education and innovation,” said Mr. Melgaard. “There’s no doubt that this is a time of extraordinary opportunity for the people of Fiji, and my family and I are excited to begin our new lives here.
“I look forward to working closely with the government as well as the many regional and civil society organizations here to sustainably grow our partnership with Fiji in important areas such as renewable energy, disaster prevention, and transport, and exploring potential new areas for partnership.”
Mr. Melgaard added that Fiji is carving out an important role on the global stage; with Peter Thomson currently serving as Chair of the United Nations General Assembly and the country’s upcoming role as Chair of the COP23 Climate Change conference in Bonn, Germany.
“As Fiji prepares to chair COP23, in which the commitments made in Paris are further cemented, its role as a player on the international stage will continue to grow, most crucially on climate change, an issue of grave importance to the future of all Pacific Islanders,” said Mr. Melgaard.
The World Bank’s support to Fiji includes projects in transport and roads, information and communication technology, renewable energy, disaster recovery and response, together with advisory services.
In his time with the World Bank, Mr. Melgaard has led strategy development, lending operations and analytical work across a broad range of areas. He most recently led the year-long consultation process which led to the five-year, nine-country Pacific Islands Regional Country Partnership Framework, the key guiding document for the World Bank’s program in nine Pacific countries: Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (FSM), Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Prior to joining the World Bank, Mr. Melgaard worked for the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the Danish Red Cross, and the Danish International Development Agency in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Vietnam. He holds a Master’s Degree in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar.