Blue Pacific Alliance Launches $19.8 Million ‘PROJECT Governance’ Initiative

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EWC is among partners implementing the 5-year, USAID-funded project to support governance systems in the Pacific

HONOLULU (Sept. 28) – Yesterday in Suva, Fiji, the Blue Pacific Alliance launched a five-year, US $19.8 million project funded by United States of America through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help strengthen democratic institutions and promote sound, just, and responsive governance in the Pacific Islands region. (View video of the launch event.)

The initiative, titled “Promoting Just, Engaged, Civic-minded and Transparent (PROJECT) Governance," aims to organize local communities to foster consensus and inclusion, inspire ownership and draw on local understanding of governance. The Blue Pacific Alliance is a partnership between The Pacific Community (SPC), East-West Center (EWC), CARE, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to implement the new PROJECT Governance initiative.

PROJECT Governance launch event graphic
View video of the PROJECT Governance launch event.

PROJECT Governance aims to:

  • Enhance the integrity of government transactions (sound governance)
  • Promote the fair and equal application of laws and the integrity of electoral and political processes that represent the will and interests of the people (just governance)
  • Strengthen institutions, policies and services to ensure that they are accessible, accountable, and responsive to all segments of the population (responsive governance).

In a statement presented remotely during the launch event, Sāmoa Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Ma‘afa said that “PROJECT Governance presents a further opportunity for our member governments, respectively and collectively as the Blue Pacific Region … to support our continued efforts to improve human development, sustainably grow our economies and reduce poverty, improve gender equality, and enhance good governance as well as political and social conditions for stability and safety.”

“I wish to express my thanks to USAID and all other partners for their support for PROJECT Governance, and I look forward to our government engaging with the institutions in the Pacific who are promoting this project,” said Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo in a similar message. “I’ve often said that a better world is something we build collectively, as we are doing today.”

People-centered approach
“Exploring a people-centered approach to development and good governance will be at the heart of the activities delivered through this partnership,” said Dr. Stuart Minchin, Director-General of SPC—the region’s principal scientific and technical development organization—which is leading the Blue Pacific Alliance. “Collaborations will be sought with a wide range of stakeholders including governments, local communities, financial and anti-corruption specialists, journalists, judges, politicians, national human rights institutions, and civil society organizations, as well as youth, traditional and faith-based leaders.” 

PROJECT Governance will be implemented in collaboration with 12 Pacific Island countries: The Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Sāmoa, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Nauru, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Program staff will work alongside local communities to foster consensus and inclusion, inspire ownership, and draw on best practices of traditional knowledge and local understanding of governance.

The initiative will also provide small grants to civil society organizations in various Pacific Island countries to support local initiatives. Ultimately, sound, just, and responsive governance will result in an enhanced quality of life for Pacific citizens and increase the resilience, prosperity, and sovereignty of Pacific nations.

In-person and virtual participants in the PROJECT Governance launch. Photo courtesy of SPC.
In-person and virtual participants in the PROJECT Governance launch. Photo courtesy of SPC.

EWC and PROJECT Governance
East-West Center has been awarded US $5 million of the project funding to lead four mutually reinforcing programs focused on supporting financial-governance officials across the region over the next five years:

  • Financial Governance Training: A region-wide training program to enhance Pacific governments’ sovereign authority and law-enforcement capabilities to identify, investigate, and prosecute financial crimes by strengthening national financial governance agencies and connecting them regionally through a Pacific Islands Financial Intelligence Network.
     
  • Financial Media Training: Reporting tours and training programs in government investment and financial policies for Pacific investigative journalists and media professionals, expanding the independent media’s ability to inform the public on financial issues and hold governments and enforcement agencies accountable.
     
  • PROJECT Governance Graduate Fellows: Equipping a core group of exceptional Pacific governance leaders through graduate degree fellowships for advanced degrees in management and finance.
     
  • Blue Pacific Governance Gateway: An online platform to support, synergize, and sustain the full array of PROJECT Governance initiatives. The Gateway will serve as a digital meeting place and resource for networking, communications, and capacity development, and as the portal for sharing the digital tools and data developed across the project.

“Over the next several years, effective financial governance will be a critical factor determining whether greater economic opportunities and foreign investment will deliver better livelihoods for Pacific peoples,” said East-West Center President Dr. Richard R. Vuylsteke. “Based on this, the East-West Center’s contribution to PROJECT Governance focuses on strengthening financial governance through a two-pronged effort: developing the capacities of financial oversight agencies and empowering civil-society organizations to demand greater transparency from leaders and government institutions.”

“Our team is excited to be working with our Blue Pacific Alliance partners to implement these important activities in support of Pacific Island communities,” said EWC Chief Communications Officer Jake Hamstra, who is heading up the Center’s participation in the project. “East-West Center will draw on our longstanding in-country networks to focus on enhancing good financial governance as a collaborative effort with regional, national, and civil-society partners.”

For more information about the East-West Center and PROJECT Governance, please contact ProG[email protected].

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