Pacific

$US2m boost for human rights work in Pacific

One of the aims of the Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project is to support MPs and community leaders champion human rights in their communities.

The project will receive about $US2 million in funding over two years from the UK government's Commonwealth Fund.

Senior human rights advisor for the Pacific Community Jayshree Mangubhai said she was confident the work would help create meaningful social change.

NCDs, climate change, security effects on Pacific private sector discussed

The meeting discussed actions the private sector needs to take in the Pacific region to challenge climate change, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) and other relevant issues. 

The preparatory meeting is held annually ahead of the annual Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting, where Pacific Island leaders consider the recommendations from the preparatory meeting. This year, the Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting will be held in Nauru on September 4.

Strong visitor growth continues in the Pacific region

Fiji continues to be the top destination in the region.

Arrivals to the organisation's member countries provisionally reached over 460,000 in the March quarter of 2018.

The latest quarterly review reports visitors to the Asia and Pacific region were up 8.2 percent from 7.3 percent in the December quarter.

The latest figures outperformed last March's quarter by about 6 percent.

CEO Chris Cocker said Fiji continues to be the top destination with 36.7 percent of visitors followed by French Polynesia at 9.7 percent, Palau on 7.3 and PNG 7.2.

NZ's foreign minister announces next steps in 'Pacific reset' aid strategy

When the coalition government came to power last year, it announced a so-called Pacific reset to New Zealand's foreign policy, and this year's budget saw a surge in funds for the foreign ministry.

In a speech on Friday, Winston Peters announced what he called the next steps in that reset, saying his eyes were wide open to "New Zealand's decreasing influence" in the Pacific.

Mr Peters said New Zealand is looking to redefine its spending by partnering with others in projects which last for 50 years or longer, pointing to support for a Kiribati land reclamation project.

Dengue impact widespread in Pacific in past 18 months

The Team Coordinator, Health Security and Communicable Diseases, Angela Merianos, says outbreaks were reported from American Samoa, Fiji, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu in 2017.

She said Wallis and Futuna has had an outbreak of dengue type 1, with French Polynesia and New Caledonia having both serotypes 1 and 2 of the illness.

Dr Merianos said Niue has had types 2 and 4, with Kiribati recently reporting type 2 dengue fever.

Push to embed climate change prep in Pacific

SPREP'S climate change adaptation advisor said training being held this week in Fiji aimed to improve planning and decision making to boost resilience.

Filomena Nelson said skills such as cost benefit analysis were being taught so that limited resources can be spent wisely and with a long term view in mind.

"Adaptation has to be done as part of development planning as well.

Anote Tong says cutting emissions won't save Kiribati

Mr Tong is visiting New Zealand to promote a film called Anote's Ark which portrays the frightening climate change reality that his people face.

He said even if the most ambitious targets for reducing global carbon emissions are met Kiribati and other islands like Tuvalu and Tokelau could still be swamped by the sea.

Pacific to receive bulk of bolstered NZ aid budget

The Government is set to hike foreign aid by $US500 million ($NZ714 million) over the next four years, as part of its "Pacific reset" strategy. The funding boost represents a 30 percent increase in overseas development funding.

Mr Peters said it was time to reverse the decline in the country's aid support for multilateral and humanitarian agencies over the past decade, which had been sitting well below international averages.

He said the new funding would lift New Zealand's Overseas Development Assistance to 0.28% of gross national income over the next four years.

Island tourists urged to get to know the locals

Christopher Cocker said culture was at the centre of what was on offer in the Pacific and a recent global meeting had emphasised the need for indigenous people to have more of a voice in the way tourism was planned and developed.

He said tourists to the region also needed to be encouraged to branch out when they travelled to the region to gain a more authentic experience of the diverse cultures they were visiting.

Pacific to toughen up on inter-island vessels

The recommendation came from the third Domestic Ship Safety Forum held in Papua New Guinea last week with 13 Pacific nations including New Zealand.

The Pacific Community's ship safety audit adviser Omirete Tabureka says second-hand vessels are usually purchased without a pre-inspection, but that will soon be a requirement.

"To make sure it's fit for purpose...[we are] probably looking at engaging some well-qualified inspectors and surveyors. These countries lack that kind of expertise."