The 2019 Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Fiji highlighted three key issues: Firstly, the importance of the immediate threat climate change poses to Pacific Island states; secondly, the risk for Australia in not recognising that its “Security and Integration” strategy needs a climate change theme or element to its delivery; and, thirdly, while not overtly evident, the criticality of the impact of China’s presence in the Pacific.
Public rhetoric and statements from Pacific Island national leaders made clear the importance (to them) of climate change. The threat brought about by climate change is real for these nations. Some data suggests that rising water levels associated with climate change will make parts of some islands uninhabitable by 2035-40.
Australia pledged $1.097 billion in Official Development Assistance to the Pacific region in 2017/18 and $500 million to support climate change action in the Pacific, but this will not be enough. Not enough in itself to meet the infrastructure, logistics and maintenance requirements (and associated commercial opportunities) that are required to help Pacific nations prosper while countering the threat of climate change.
And the rhetoric from Pacific Island nation leaders about Australia’s “unnecessary” concern about China’s increased presence (and influence) in the Pacific simply serve to highlight the changing nature of the region – and the associated risks and opportunities that arise for Australia’s strategic interests, not the least in managing and facilitating the United States’ “re-engagement” into the region.
Looking at things through this prism will identify the potential commercial development that arise for large-scale projects and programs… opportunities that Vaxa can assist stakeholders to identify, develop and realise.