Five-Year Plan Highlights Opportunities and Risks for Nine Pacific Island Nations

February 28, 2017

World Bank Group outlines plan to take advantage of significant increase in financial support

WASHINGTON D.C., February 28, 2017 – With an expected tripling of available funds to the Pacific Islands from the World Bank, a new partnership framework between the World Bank Group and nine Pacific Island countries focuses on how to work together to achieve transformative change in the coming five years, especially in key sectors such as climate change and disaster risk management, information and communication technology, aviation, fisheries, transport, and tourism.

Discussed today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors following extensive collaboration between the World Bank Group and Pacific governments, the Regional Partnership Framework provides a roadmap for Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (FSM), Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, and highlights both regional opportunities and country-specific action plans for the five years ahead.

“This framework, the product of wide-ranging consultations with a range of stakeholders, brings together extensive knowledge and experience from across the Pacific to guide how the World Bank and Pacific governments can best work together over the next five years to have the most positive impact for the people of these nine extraordinary countries,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “The framework has been developed to allow each country to take advantage of regional opportunities, while being flexible enough to tailor activities that best suit each country’s own unique needs.”

The majority of countries included in the framework are likely to have access to a tripling, and in some cases a quadrupling, of available financing through the World Bank in the coming years, as funds allocated to the Pacific through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) will increase to US$900 million during the IDA18 replenishment period, which runs from July 2017 to June 2020, compared with US$360 million for the previous three years.

Given this significant increase and the World Bank Group’s planned staff increases in key Pacific Island countries, the framework comes at a crucial time, providing a clear guide for Pacific governments and the World Bank Group to ensure more investment in four priority areas:

1.     Maximizing economic opportunities, principally through fisheries, agriculture and tourism.

2.     Enhancing access to employment opportunities, particularly through labour mobility and tackling youth unemployment. Addressing gender-based violence will also form an important element of the engagement.

3.     Protecting sources of income and livelihoods by strengthening preparedness and resilience to natural disasters and climate change, as well as addressing non-communicable diseases.

4.     Strengthening the enablers of growth through improved macroeconomic management, increased access to basic services and addressing knowledge gaps.

Tom Jacobs, Country Manager for the Pacific at the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group’s private-sector lending arm, said despite the challenges, the private sector must play an increased role in supporting Pacific Island economies.

“Through our advisory and investment activities, IFC will continue working actively to facilitate private sector engagement, mitigate the impact of commercial bank ‘de-risking’ and help clients take full advantage of opportunities to grow and create jobs,” said Jacobs. “We look forward to working with regional governments, private sector clients, colleagues at the World Bank and our development partners, including the Australian and New Zealand governments, to address the key challenges and maximize opportunities for the private sector under this new partnership framework.”

Building on an already strong engagement with countries in the region, the framework is largely informed by lessons from implementing programs throughout the Pacific in the past decade, together with the 25-year future-focused Pacific Possible report and Systematic Country Diagnostic, the analysis of the key constraints and opportunities facing Pacific Island countries.

The full Regional Partnership Framework for the PIC9 is available online here.


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