MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has launched a new approach to improve its development efforts in the Pacific.

The Pacific Approach 2010 - 2014 sets out the overarching framework for ADB's operations in its 14 Pacific developing member countries (Pacific DMCs), and represents a shift in emphasis by paying attention not only on the type of development assistance ADB provides, but also on how best such assistance is delivered on the ground. It focuses on promoting consensus and ownership of initiatives by governments, civil society organizations and local communities.

"Most of our Pacific DMCs operate in a fragile and complex environment, characterized by geographical isolation, small populations, weak capacities, limited resource endowments, and high vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters," said S. Hafeez Rahman, Director General of ADB's Pacific Department.

"Through the Pacific Approach, ADB will be able to deliver improved assistance to our Pacific DMCs by establishing greater consensus and ownership of programs and projects. At the same time, we will be able to provide stronger support to governments in the critical areas of strengthening public sector functions, addressing capacity constraints, scaling up private sector participation, expanding regional cooperation, and mainstreaming climate-proofing," he added.

The Pacific Approach is designed to give broad direction to tackling common development challenges affecting the Pacific DMCs, and guide individual country partnership strategies. The new approach is also aligned to ADB's Strategy 2020, and the regional Pacific Plan formulated by governments of Pacific DMCs.

Asian Development Outlook 2009 Update, ADB's flagship economic report, forecast in September a 2.8% growth for the Pacific region, slightly down from an earlier estimate of 3.0% in March. Declines in remittances, tourism and commodity prices and the global financial crisis have had significant impact on the Pacific economies. Natural disasters have also adversely affected recovery in Samoa, which was struck by a tsunami in September, and Fiji, which was hit by floods earlier in the year.

ADB has an active presence in the Pacific region, with loans and grants amounting to $747 million to ten Pacific DMCs as of end 2008 and cumulative lending of up to $2 billion to 14 Pacific DMCs. ADB has also tripled its contribution to private sector participation over the years. It currently provides development assistance to 14 Pacific DMCs: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.