With the effects of the current global economic turmoil being felt acutely in Pacific island nations, social policies placing an emphasis on dialogue, community ownership and human rights are essential to mitigate the impact of the crisis, participants at a United Nations-backed gathering have concluded.
Academics, authorities from nine Pacific Island countries, and representatives from development agencies wrapped up a two-day meeting in Fiji’s capital, Suva, calling for a social policy placing “people at the centre of the development process.”
These nations have seen exports, remittances and official development assistance (ODA) fall due to the financial crisis, resulting in drops in employment, household incomes, foreign exchange and government revenue.
“The current economic crisis gives impetus for the need to readdress social policy,” saidIosefa Maiava, who heads the Pacific Operations Centre of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
Since the current crisis “is likely to exacerbate inequalities and risks that already exist in the Pacific, governments need to adopt and implement a social paradigm that is both inclusive and sustainable,” he added.
Participants at the meeting – organized by ESCAP, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), the University of the South Pacific and the Commonwealth Secretariat – came from Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.