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 2021.
The World Bank’s work in Fiji and Solomon Islands is guided by individual country strategies, with a new Country Partnership Framework 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 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.
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.
Agriculture is vital for many Pacific Island countries, particularly as most of the region’s population live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for food security and livelihoods. In Samoa, where almost 70% of people are employed in agriculture, the World Bank is working with farmers to improve livestock and farming practices. We’re also working with countries across the Pacific to improve the management and sustainability of oceanic and coastal fisheries.
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 Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to increase electricity access for essentials such as lighting, phone charging and refrigeration. In Fiji, Kiribati, 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 designed to help Pacific Island countries improve regionally-coordinated sustainable management of tuna fisheries, and ensure that the benefits 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: Sep 26, 2019