New Pacific Study Calls for More Consultations, Participatory Governance

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - A new capacity development study for Pacific nations shows that sustained capacity development of people and organizations can lead to better service delivery and increased poverty reduction in the region.

The Pacific Capacity Development Study is sponsored by Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

The study highlights good governance and increased participation of people in the decision-making process on development issues as key factors in helping build capacity in the Pacific Islands.

The study investigates 21 case studies from 11 Pacific developing countries: Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. The cases cover a range of experiences including economic planning, infrastructure development, health and legal sector reform, and civil society enhancement.

The study also identifies a number of key factors contributing success to the case studies: leadership, participation, right incentives, an enabling environment, and flexibility.

“Genuine consultation and participation are central to improving capacity development in the Pacific,” said S. Hafeez Rahman, Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department. “Future approaches to building capacity in the Pacific may involve changing the way we do business in the Pacific.”

Capacity is often associated with individual skills or organizational abilities. The ADB study uses the definition of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), which terms it as “the process whereby people, organizations, and society as a whole, unleash, strengthen, create, adapt and maintain capacity over time.”

The report says the core functions of Pacific governments, such as financial management and formulation of policy, must be strengthened. Pacific people should become more involved in the decision-making process, especially on critical issues such as greater competition, reduced payroll, land registration, public utility fees, budget management, and foreign investment.

ADB is working closely with Pacific developing member countries and other development partners to implement more efficient, effective, and demand-driven capacity development interventions.

Capacity Development is one of the main assistance areas identified in ADB’s Long Term Strategic Framework for 2008-2020 (Strategy 2020). Strategy 2020 will serve as ADB’s corporate-wide planning document and give ADB a more relevant and innovative role in helping shape the region’s future.