ADB: Pacific Island countries need concerted action to address unique challenges
Small island developing states (SIDS) must position themselves to take full advantage of often limited, but nonetheless available, opportunities to improve standards of living and accelerate economic growth, according to the latest issue of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Pacific Economic Monitor launched on Dec. 12.
The Monitor focuses on addressing the development needs and challenges of the Pacific SIDS, which in the context of this publication are the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
The Monitor notes that the geographic and physical challenges faced by SIDS manifest in elevated cost structures and heightened economic vulnerability that severely constrain development prospects. These are further compounded by fragility from thin institutional capacities for effective governance and increased climate change risks.
“Development challenges stemming from vulnerability and fragility, which are further amplified by climate change impacts, call for a differentiated approach to long-term development among the SIDS,” said ADB Director General for the Pacific, Carmela Locsin. “Sustainable development financing as well as innovative, fit-for-purpose strategies for institutional strengthening are central to such an approach.”
This is the 28th issue of the Monitor, the ADB Pacific Department’s flagship economic publication, which was launched in 2009 to provide more regular economic reporting on the Pacific islands.
It reveals that a weak external environment is translating into a softer 2019–2020 outlook for the Pacific through subdued exports. The sub-regional outlook is for average growth of 4.0 percent in 2019 before moderating to 2.5 percent in 2020, largely reflecting weaker prospects in Fiji and a return to low growth in PNG as the ongoing recovery from last year’s major earthquake fades.
The Monitor includes country articles as well as policy briefs. Country articles feature analyses of Labor productivity and youth unemployment in Fiji, fishing revenues in Kiribati and Tuvalu, and how various SIDS manage unconventional revenue streams. Other articles focus on recent fiscal adjustments in PNG, sustaining tourism-led growth in the Cook Islands, improving the business environment in Palau, Samoa’s ability to rebound and build resilience after disasters, and urbanization issues in Tonga.
Topical policy briefs in the report further examine the common development challenges faced by SIDS. The first policy brief discusses the structural constraints to long-term development among SIDS and highlights the crucial role of sustainable development financing to overcome these.
Another policy brief mapping fragility in the Pacific shows that although some progress has been made over the past decade to strengthen institutional capacities among SIDS, there is still work to be done.
Other policy briefs outline key takeaways from some Pacific atoll nations at the frontlines of climate change, and explore poverty reduction challenges in small island developing states, with special reference to PNG.
The Pacific Economic Monitor is ADB’s bi-annual review of economic developments and policy issues in ADB’s 14 developing member countries in the Pacific. In combination with the Asian Development Outlook series, ADB provides quarterly reports on economic trends and policy developments in the Pacific. The Monitor welcomes contributions of policy briefs from external authors and institutions. (ADB)