Resilience in the Pacific - Addressing the Critical Issues
On 16 and 17 February 2011 the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs and the Institute of Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, co-hosted a conference that sought to bring fresh insights into the formidable array of major challenges facing New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours. The focus of the conference was on the nature, relevance and implications of the concept of ‘resilience’ as applied in the Pacific, in the face of those daunting challenges. Most of the texts presented are in this book of proceedings. It will be seen that collectively they highlighted the seeming intractability of long-standing regional and local problems: weak governance, access barriers in metropolitan markets, political patronage, population pressures on limited natural resources, the disproportionate sixe of public sectors, and challenges around economic and resource sustainability. AS well, New Zealand’s near-neighbours are now confronted by a new suite of modern-day issues: climate change, cross-border crime, labour mobility, and more recently the intrusion of great-power rivalries into the region. On a regional basis the Pacific has to date struggled to gain real traction towards achievement of the MDGs.
Yet grounds for cautious optimism were identified: for example, in the evidence emerging that the region may be blessed with more bountiful natural resources in and beneath its vast ocean realm than has hitherto been realised. Speakers pointed to areas of opportunity under-valued or untapped: in developing visionary leadership, building self-confidence, utilising the strengths and loyalties of the Pacific ‘diaspora’, adopting more ambitious schemes of infra structure development, promoting better awareness of the quality of Pacific products, and focussing donor perceptions more on the potential of the formal aid programme to function as an enabler to progress not as growth constraint.
The official and civil society dialogue on ways of tackling Pacific issues more effectively and successfully is destined to continue for many years to come. We trust the accumulated experience and wisdom captured in the chapters of this volume will represent a helpful contribution to that on-going conversation.
Published in July 2011
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