Tuesday, 29 January 2008 9:56 PM

Climate Change, Governance Policies Remain Concerns for Developing Pacific Nations

Given the dramatic challenges presented by climate change, including the risk that some islands in the Pacific may become uninhabitable, the ADB's Pacific Strategy will be further refined to provide more emphasis on environmental management to help the region better manage its vulnerable natural environment.

The midterm review of ADB's Pacific Strategy 2005-2009 highlighted key initiatives implemented under the Strategy to support development in the Pacific Developing Member Countries (PDMCs), and the steps needed to help the region face the challenges of climate change.

Additionally, according to the review, governance remains one of the key factors that determines growth results for PDMCs. Those PDMCs with good governance have tended to grow, whereas those countries that experienced coups and civil unrest have performed poorly over time.

"The Pacific region continues to display the symptoms of a fragile development process. Economic growth generally remains low. Civil unrest, political instability, and poor law-and-order continue to hinder the region's development," said Philip Erquiaga, Director General of ADB's Pacific Department. "The midterm review of the Strategy describes how ADB's Pacific operations will, in close collaboration with its development partners, harness new opportunities to respond to the needs of the PDMCs."

The review noted that while there are some common development constraints across the region, the response must be tailored to the particular circumstances of each PDMC. The one-size-fits-all approach does not work in the Pacific Islands, and flexible approaches are needed to improve development results.

ADB and its development partners are fast-tracking roads and bridge projects to accelerate growth and provide jobs and services. Under the refined Strategy, there will also be a deeper engagement with civil society and private sector groups within PDMCs. Efforts are also continuing to further develop relationships with a broader range of donors.

Economic growth in the Pacific Islands was modest in 2007, according to ADB's flagship annual economic report, Asian Development Outlook. The Pacific economies continue to lag behind Asia, and much of the Pacific region's population is exposed to a decline in living standards when economic conditions weaken.

The total level of approved ADB assistance has increased substantially under the Pacific Strategy. Total approvals in 2005-2007 were $462.4 million, 141% above the $191.7 million in total approvals during the preceding three years.