Overview

  • 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 combined 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 over 900,000, to Tuvalu and Nauru, with estimated populations around 11,000 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 vulnerability 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. The World Risk Index 2018 ranks five Pacific Island countries among the top 20 most at-risk countries in the world, including Vanuatu and Tonga, which are ranked first and second respectively.

    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: Apr 08, 2019

  • 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) and a new hub office for the South Pacific, in Suva, Fiji, opened in March 2019. 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 until 20211. 

    The World Bank’s work in Fiji and Solomon Islands are guided by individual country strategies, with a new Country Engagement Strategy for Fiji currently in development.

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

    With these challenges in mind, in 2017 the World Bank launched Pacific Possible, a comprehensive study which looks 25 years ahead to quantify the impacts of potential opportunities and significant challenges for the region, focusing on: climate and disaster resilience, deep-sea mining, health and non-communicable diseases, financing for development, labor mobility, tourism and tuna fisheries. The findings in the complete Pacific Possible report aim to provide governments and policy-makers with insights into the potential impact of each focus area on the economy, employment, government income and spending.

    Focus sectors

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

    Agricultural production is an important issue for many Pacific Island countries, as most of the population live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for food security and livelihoods.

    In health, 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 across countries for better front-line results, including for non-communicable diseases. 

    Transport 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 supporting Tonga and Kiribati through the Tonga Transport Sector Consolidation Project and the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project to improve the reliability and safety of transport networks.

    Through a consistent approach to address climate change impacts, projects are now underway to improve the resilience of key Pacific Island transport infrastructure – roads, maritime and aviation – in Samoa, Tuvalu and Tonga with future projects planned in other countries. Through the Pacific Aviation Investment Program, Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Pacific Aviation Safety Office are being supported to make air travel safer and more efficient.

    Information Communication Technologies such as internet and phones, are vital for connecting people. Through the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program, people in the Federated States of Micronesia (Yap, Pohnpei, Kosrae), Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa and Tuvalu are being connected to significantly faster, more reliable and more affordable internet following the impact of similar work in Tonga.

    High population growth and high unemployment are now critical issues in many Pacific countries. The World Bank is helping 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. The Skills and Employment for Tongans Project aims to address similar challenges by improving employment pathways for Tongan youth.

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

    In Solomon Islands, this work includes the major Tina River Hydro Development Project, as well as investments in grid-connected solar, which both aim to reduce Solomon Islands’ near total-reliance on diesel fuel for energy.

    The Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program (PROP) is a three-phased, multi-year regional initiative designed to help Pacific Island countries improve regionally-coordinated sustainable management of tuna fisheries, and ensure that the benefits gleaned are equitably shared across countries. The program also helps Pacific Island countries sustainably manage their coastal fisheries and the critical habitats. PROP is currently active in the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, with a regional project in the Forum Fisheries Agency.

     

    Last Updated: Apr 08, 2019

  • Since it began in 2008, the Rural Development Program in Solomon Islands has provided funding and technical support to more than 1,600 projects, activities, and partnerships reaching more than 337,000 Solomon Islanders in rural communities across the country.

    In natural disaster resilience, the Pacific-owned PCRAFI Facility builds on regional collaboration through the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Insurance (PCRAFI) initiative. Through this program, Tonga and Vanuatu received insurance payouts in the immediate aftermath of Cyclones Ian (Tonga, 2014), Pam (Vanuatu, 2015) and Gita (Tonga, 2018) helping the countries rebuild and repair.

    The World Bank is also working to strengthen disaster preparedness: in Vanuatu, the National Warning Centre, with the early warnings it provides, helped to save many lives when Cyclone Pam struck. And when disasters strike, the Bank provides expertise to quickly assess damages, including following cyclones Pam (Vanuatu, 2015) and Winston (Fiji, 2016). Most recently, 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.

    There is arguably no more significant threat to the Pacific Islands than climate change, and through the Pacific Resilience Program, projects across the region are helping to strengthen Pacific Island countries’ resilience. In Fiji, the World Bank supported the government to prepare a comprehensive assessment of the country’s vulnerability to climate change in 2017, and in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), supported Fiji to issue the first ever Green Bond from a developing country, raising $50 million for climate resilience in the process.

    In Kiribati, a program is working with communities to better prepare them for the impacts of climate change, including rainwater tanks for remote communities, where sea level rise and drought have left many drinking wells contaminated.

    Clean energy projects are having an impact in the Pacific with Vanuatu’s Rural Electrification Program subsiding solar kits and assisting families access the grid, making electricity access a reality for 12,000 families and businesses in many of Vanuatu’s lowest income rural areas. The Improved Electricity Access Project together with the local service providers own subsidized electricity connection programs has enabled 4,500 low income families to access the electricity grid. A similar project in Solomon Islands has enabled 1,160 connections to low income households, community infrastructure and microenterprises.

    The Solomon Islands Rapid Employment Project provided short-term employment and training for urban youth and women in the capital, Honiara. By the end of 2018, the project generated over 785,000 days of work, paid $3.25 million in wages and trained more than 13,100 people.

    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. The Second Phase of the project was the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), with the state of Yap connected in June 2018, and Chuuk being connected in April 2019. Kosrae will be connected in 2021 as part of a wider sub-regional investment being delivered with Nauru (funded by the ADB) and Kiribati. The project also includes work to connect Samoa (Savai’i) and Fiji (Savusavu), and Kiribati, with new investments in a submarine cable for Tuvalu being delivered through a public-private partnership.

    World Bank-funded transport infrastructure continues to improve life across the Pacific Islands. In 2016, the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project opened an improved road network on South Tarawa, including works on the only main road through South Tarawa, 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 completed in 2016 on what is considered to be the country’s most critical stretch of road, and in 2017 Leone Bridge was rebuilt after being destroyed by Cyclone Evan. Work is now underway to improve the climate resilience of Samoa’s West Coast Road, to connect the capital Apia with the international airport, and to rebuild Mali’oli’o Bridge on Savai’i island due to the existing crossing’s vulnerability to severe weather events and landslides.

    The recently completed Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project  supported 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 and 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 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: Apr 08, 2019




PHOTO GALLERY

More Photos Arrow

In Depth

image

Fiji and Climate Change

An estimated US$4.5 billion is needed over ten years to build Fiji's resilience and capacity to adapt to climate change.

image

Video: In the Pacific, What is Possible?

Watch this video to see a realistic and promising picture of what is achievable in the Pacific by the year 2040.

image

Brochure: Our work in the Pacific Islands

Read about how we’re partnering with Pacific Island governments to support development.

Open Data

The World Bank provides free and open access to a comprehensive set of data about development in countries around the globe, including Pacific Island countries.

Open Financing

Have you wondered what the World Bank does with its money? Explore open data about World Bank's financing

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
Australia
pacificmedia@worldbank.org
Washington, +1 202-473-4709
1818 H Street, NW Washington, DC 20433
USA
eastasiapacific@worldbank.org