PACIFIC ISLANDS NEED TO UNDERSTAND, MANAGE URBANIZATION

News Release

Pacific Institute of Public Policy Port Vila, Vanuatu

July 21, 2011

It may come as a surprise, but some towns and cities in the Pacific are more densely populated than Hong Kong or New York.

The Pacific Institute of Public Policy has now released its latest briefing paper, looking at the need for Pacific nations to better manage urbanisation. It suggests the need for political will and to start framing the discussion in a more positive light.

Urbanisation needs to be managed and viewed as a national priority. It requires governments to give serious consideration to housing, health, education, land, investment and employment policies; it requires people to think about how they want to live – to define what it means to be a Pacific islander in the 21st century.

According to Dr. Paul Jones of the Urban and Regional Planning Program at the University of Sydney:

"People move for a variety of reasons, such as health, education and the excitement of the bright lights of the bigger towns and cities. People see urban areas as an alternative to rural life. Sadly, for many people, they are moving from one situation of poverty to another – that is, to towns and cities. In other words, urban poverty is seen as a better option than staying in rural poverty."

Understanding the rural-urban relationship is vital as this means the social, cultural, economic and political relationships between urban and rural areas will better inform policies to define how we want our towns and cities to evolve, and how we can better serve remote outer island populations. Pacific governments generally seem to have been caught in a policy paralysis when it comes to urbanisation, perhaps hoping that the next generation will deal with it. Well the next generation is here and its time to act.

PiPP is an independent think tank that exists to stimulate and support policy debate in the Pacific region.

For more information, please contact Talita Tu’ipulotu on ttuipulotu@pacificpolicy.org

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