The Pacific region continues to experience significant economic, social and environmental challenges. While extreme poverty—defined as the proportion of the population living below US$1.25 a day—is rare in the Pacific, poverty remains a big challenge for many countries. Over 20 per cent of people in most Pacific island countries live in hardship and are unable to meet their basic needs. Many people not currently in severe hardship remain vulnerable to falling into hardship due to economic and environmental shocks. The region is particularly prone to disasters including cyclones, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes.
—Aid Investment Plan, Pacific Regional, 2015–16 to 2018–19, DFAT
ACIAR’s Pacific research program operates across eight countries:
- Papua New Guinea
- The Solomon Islands
Extreme weather and global economic competition have hit many of their small national populations and economies hard.
The Pacific islands are among Australia’s nearest neighbours, so Australia is well placed to work closely with their governments and civil society to help them develop. The Australian Government has committed to work with Pacific Island partners (Pacific Partnerships for Development) to meet common challenges, raise the living standard throughout the region, and help individual countries to develop faster. The Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI) is working to improve rural livelihoods through developing agribusiness.
ACIAR’s research partnerships in this region try to make agricultural systems more resilient. ACIAR’s Pacific program helps to transform the agricultural, fisheries and forestry systems in these countries from subsistence to sustainable income-generating activities. ACIAR collaborates with regional organisations to bolster many countries’ limited research capacity. To improve sustainable change, ACIAR encourages innovative approaches that engage, empower and invest in women.
ACIAR’s Pacific program aims to:
- improve food and nutritional security,
- develop integrated and sustainable agriculture,
- develop fisheries and forestry resources, and
- improve market integration in agriculture, fisheries and forestry products.
- The islands’ physical isolation
- Human and organisational capacity constraints
- Land tenure disputes and uncertainties
- Lack of infrastructure
- Poor transportation logistics
- Poorly developed supply chains
- Lack of harmonisation between countries (e.g. in biosecurity laws)
- The need to link with major international markets
- Erosion of tariff preferences
- Population and urban growth
- Migration of skilled labour
- Resource depletion and degradation
- Risks from climate change
- High and fluctuating food and energy prices
- Political and economic constraints to effective policy implementation
Research priorities for Pacific Island countries in the medium term include:
- Managing and developing agriculture, fisheries and forestry resources so they are integrated and sustainable
- Making sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry more resilient to climate change
- Making agriculture, fisheries and forestry value chains more competitive