Fragile States in the Pacific: 12 Things to Know

Article | 20 December 2016

Some of the smallest, most vulnerable countries in the world are in the Pacific. Assisting these fragile states requires new and innovative thinking, according to the Asian Development Bank publication Mapping Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations in Asia and the Pacific: The ADB Experience

  1. A fragile state is defined by the inability of government to perform its core function effectively and provide basic social services, such as health, education, and security to its people. A collapse of the rule of law and poverty are also often present.

  2. The fragile states in the Pacific are geographically remote and isolated, and they are highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters.

  3. The Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Tuvalu – which are considered fragile – are among the 10 smallest states in the world and they have widely dispersed populations.

  4. Tuvalu’s fragile economy is largely dependent on external aid, but it also obtains some revenue from the rent of its ".tv" internet extension.

  5. Fragile countries are often aid-dependent and are heavily in debt.

  6. Small island developing states tend to have small but growing populations, limited resources, remoteness, great susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to external shocks, excessive dependence on international trade, and fragile environments.
  7. In fragile states in the Pacific, the public sector is the main driver of economic growth most of government funding comes from external grants.

  8. Land tenure issues, insufficient infrastructure, complex business start-up processes, and high cost of doing business limit private investments that could create jobs and lessen government dependence.
  9. Social protection systems are limited in fragile Pacific island states but traditional kinship and communal cultures help to at least partly fill in the gaps in social safety nets.

  10. Climate change, rapid urbanization, uneven patterns of development, and weak governance tend to result in peace and security challenges for some fragile states in the Pacific.

  11. Despite decades of assistance, many fragile states have shown little progress in reaching their development goals, according to the ADB publication Mapping Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations in Asia and the Pacific: The ADB Experience. A rethink of the approach to helping the countries is needed.
  12. The Asian Development Bank assists fragile states in line with the international agenda on aid effectiveness, peacebuilding and statebuilding, the principle of "do-no-harm," and with the aim of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.