Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2011: Pacific Islands Forum

Pacific Islands Forum

The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is an active political grouping of 16 independent and self-governing states, representing about 32 million people. Its motto is

Excelling Together for the People of the Pacific. These states treasure the diversity, especially of cultures, traditions and religious beliefs. They aim to provide good governance and sustainable development, seeking partnerships with neighbours and beyond in order to develop their knowledge, improve communications and ensure a sustainable economic existence.

Key challenges

Island countries face similar challenges of socio-economic development as developing countries elsewhere, but their priorities seem to be different. Climate change, power supply, connectivity for travel and communication, maritime security and human resource development figure among the major concerns.

A recent PIF communique highlights climate change as the greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific. In calling upon the world to sign a post-Kyoto agreement, it pleads that the problem should be seen in the longer term sustainability of economies, societies and peoples the world over:

Energy is a key priority as these islands are located far from known sources of oil and gas. They are unable to contemplate the use of nuclear energy.

The real choice, therefore, revolves around the renewables solar and wind energy, for which they need more assistance. Development of small industry, telephony, and better use of information technology can speed up development and reduce marginalisation.

The Indian angle

India needs to craft a comprehensive long-term strategy on development cooperation with the region, keeping in view the geo-political trends. Further, it should show greater generosity. Emulating the model devised for cooperation with Africa, a respectable sum, say $50 million, should be set aside for development projects in the Pacific region. A composite study mission could be sent to the area to develop a blueprint and to recommend an allocation of resources after examining felt needs and the absorption capacity of the countries concerned.

Interaction needs to be intensified through all channels bilateral, regional and multilateral. In particular, Indias relations with the PIF Secretariat could be expanded. The situation in the Pacific should be given greater prominence on the agenda for our dialogue with Australia and New Zealand.

The region is important to us not only in the context of the United Nations, but also in terms of China. Beijing has been active in several Indian Ocean countries closer to our shores. India must expand its horizons and become assertive in promoting the Pacific regions interests as well as its own.

Courtesy: The Hindu and Times of India