Validation of Pacific Approach Country Partnership Strategy Final Review, 2016–2020
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Pacific Approach country partnership strategy (CPS), 2016–2020 serves as the operational framework for ADB operations for the Pacific region and the overall partnership strategy for the 11 smaller Pacific island countries (PIC-11): the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. It outlined a three-pronged thematic strategy focusing on reducing costs, managing risks, and enabling value creation. ADB’s active sovereign loans, grants, and technical assistance (TA) during 2016–2020 totaled $1,090 million in approvals, while nonsovereign operations were $102 million and cofinancing $994 million. Transport received the highest share of the sovereign lending program, at 28% of the total; followed by energy (23%), water and other infrastructure and urban services (16%), information and communications technology (14%), public sector management (12%), health (4%), and education (3%).
Recognizing the unique challenges related to the small, remote, and fragile countries, ADB has scaled up support and undertaken several measures to improve its performance to support the PIC-11 including: increasing flexibility in procurement and contract requirements; improving staffing and management, e.g., establishing country offices in the PIC-11 that did not already have a resident mission; building project implementation capacities; and introducing innovative financing approaches such as the Pacific Renewable Energy Investment Facility and Project Development Facility. However, as a strategy, the Pacific Approach did not address a development goal, articulate objectives, differentiate between types of countries, or outline individual country needs, priorities, and strategies. ADB needs to improve the systems and processes to adequately measure, monitor, and report performance in the Pacific.
The validation makes several recommendations for ADB’s future strategic approach and support to the PIC-11: (i) develop a Pacific strategy and approach, possibly interim, targeted at addressing the twin health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic; (ii) develop a strategy for the PIC-12 (now including Niue) that articulates a transformative, differentiated, and fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCAS) approach; (iii) measure and monitor the performance of ADB support to the PIC-12 at both the strategic and project levels and use evidence-based reporting to learn, adapt, and better demonstrate success and ADB value addition; (iv) work more closely with other development partners to support stronger aid coordination in counterpart governments and improve absorptive capacity in the Pacific; and (v) build PARD capacity to deliver and manage the larger work program.