To strengthen local communities efforts to foster consensus and inclusion, inspire ownership and draw on local understanding of governance in the Pacific, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Pacific Community (SPC) launched the “Promoting Just, Engaged, Civic-minded and Transparent (PROJECT) Governance” partnership programme.
PROJECT Governance will provide small grants to civil society organizations in the 12 Pacific Island countries to support local initiatives that provide technical assistance on government transparency, accountability, and corruption prevention. It will also support organizations that promote human rights and enhance the role of media in fostering transparency and accountability.
The United States Government, through USAID, is committing USD 19.8 million to this five-year partnership, which will empower the voice of women, youth, and various marginalized voices in 12 PICs: The Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Nauru, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Samoa Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata‘afa said, “Our Blue Pacific region is in a continuous state of change and progression, in large part driven by our desire and aspirations to live a good quality of life. But we face numerous shared challenges - from managing and mitigating the effects of climate change to sustainably managing our ocean and fisheries resources and accelerated loss of biodiversity, to now guarding against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its debilitating socio-economic impacts.” Adding that, “PROJECT Governance’ presents a further opportunity for our member governments respectively, and collectively as the Blue Pacific region to reassess our positions.”
Federated States of Micronesia President David W. Panuelo stressed that the project would have an immediate impact saying, “I am completely confident that PROJECT Governance will provide objective and impartial guidance and advice. To be clear, I am also soliciting objective and impartial guidance and advice from PROJECT Governance on both the FSM’s governance, historically and currently.”
Elise Tokumasu de Silva, Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, highlighted how the project would strengthen partnerships noting that, “PROJECT Governance is a great opportunity to support our partners in the Pacific Region to foster and enhance open and democratic structures that will provide a voice to all citizens.”
Acting Mission Director Sean Callahan of USAID echoed the importance of partnerships and stressed how the long term nature of the project reflected USAID’s commitment to the region. “Over the next five years, PROJECT Governance will work to achieve sound, just and responsive governance, by working towards changing long-standing incentives that impede government transparency; creating relationships of mutual accountability; strengthening a culture and practice of integrity promotion and corruption prevention; removing opportunities to manipulate electoral processes and impeding citizen engagement; addressing a culture of impunity; re-educating people throughout society on the role that government should play in their lives; and ensuring media can foster transparency and accountability.”
Stuart Minchin, Director General of the Pacific Community emphasized how the project was in keeping with SPC’s dedication to using a ‘people-centered approach’ in its development work. “A people-centred approach to development and good governance will be at the heart of the activities delivered through this partnership. Collaborations will be sought with a wide range of stakeholders including governments (national and sub-national), local communities, financial and anti-corruption specialists, journalists, judges, politicians, National Human Rights Institutions, civil society organisations, youth, traditional and faith-based leaders.”
The launch event was hosted by SPC at the Pacific Community’s Regional Office in Fiji with keynote addresses given by Samoa Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata‘afa, Federated States of Micronesia President David W. Panuelo. Elise Tokumasu de Silva, Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, of the United States Embassy to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu, USAID Acting Mission Director for Philippines, Pacific Islands and Mongolia Sean Callahan, and Stuart Minchin, Director General of the Pacific Community.
Kalpana Nizarat, Communications Officer HRSD, SPC | [email protected]