National Consultation on the UN Pacific Strategy

The United Nations operational activities in the Pacific over the last 5 years (2013 to 2017) have been guided by a United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), a strategic program that outlines the collective response of the UN system to development challenges and national priorities in 14 island nations.  Another program the UN Pacific Strategy (UNPS) will be developed to carry on for a further 5 years after the UNDAF funds are exhausted.  UNPS will concentrate on country level and regional development priorities.

During a consultation meeting organized by the Vanuatu Government and the UNICEF in Port Vila on Friday 5 August 2016 at the Convention Centre a spokesperson from the UN stated that the UN is ready to listen to the Pacific island states on what development goals they would like to see achieved in the next 5 years (2018 to 2022) as the UN is willing to assist technically and financially towards those goals.  The Vanuatu Government through the Department of Strategic Policy, Planning & Aid Coordination revealed that after the Priority Action Agenda (PAA) ended, the government really hasn’t finalized a National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP) yet, a document that should contain Vanuatu’s developmental needs.  In the plenary sessions, the discussions that followed says it all that the PAA failed to achieve many of its goals.  Although the UN is insisting that Vanuatu draws up its developmental goals with possible assistance to be provided for by the UN development arms, it could be seen that if developmental goals are developed but adequate resources are not allocated to those goals then the still to be finalized NSDP will go down the same lane the PAA went.

From the presentations it could be seen that the rural areas where the development goals should be heading have not received much assistance.  Port Vila and Luganville have benefited much from the development partners including the UN but the majority of the people who were and are still in need are left out.  PAA failed because many of its policy directives were either implemented only in the urban centers or were only on paper and were stored away in the shelves.  The NSDP once finalized will have to be reviewed by all from the government to the Non-Government Organizations to the private sector to ensure it is workable.

In one of the presentations, adults interviewed in the rural areas stated that assistance from the developmental programs funded by donors that were supposed to reach them did not reach them.  In fact the interviewees raised many issues that were raised before that there is a need for income generating activities to be developed and sustained in the rural areas to ensure community dwellers earn regular income from those activities as well as to guard against or reduce rural-urban migration.  Other issues are access to funding which is now seen to be a never ending issue and access to business mentoring to ensure micro and small business entrepreneurs who initiated businesses maintain and sustain their business operations in the long term.

The private sector would like the government through the Department of Strategic Policy, Planning & Aid Coordination to finalize a draft of the NSDP as quickly as possible and have the draft circulated widely to collect as much inputs as possible.  A well-documented NSDP dossier covering all 17 sustainable development goals in the yet to be developed UNPS will ensure that Vanuatu receives much developmental assistance from the UN and other development partners.