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Pacific Island small states (PSS)

Beyond the wire: connecting Tonga

Tom Perry's picture
Billboards announcing the arrival of high-speed
broadband internet being installed in downtown
Nukua'lofa, the capital of the Kingdom
of Tonga.

Hoko (‘connect’ in Tongan) is the current buzzword on the streets of the Kingdom of Tonga.

With May 17th recognized around the world as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa is a hive of activity as telecommunications providers set up their activities to mark the day.  The billboards have gone up, teenagers have been lining up at auditions to become the new public face of the marketing campaign for Tongan internet, and the Prime Minister, Lord Sialeʻataongo Tuʻivakanō is planning a public Skype session with Tongan soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan.

If there is any year the Kingdom of Tonga would be justifiably excited about its telecomms story, 2013 is it. As one of the most remote island nations on the planet, the impending arrival of high-speed, fiber-optic broadband internet – made possible through the World Bank-supported Pacific Regional Connectivity Project, an 830km-long cable being connected between Fiji and Tonga – means that everyone is talking of hoko.

I spoke to a number of people about the experience with internet in Tonga and how broadband internet would affect their lives.

Welcoming mobile phones and internet to the Solomon Islands

Alison Ofotalau's picture
54 in every 100 Solomon Islander now
has access to some form of modern
telecommunication.

Recently my 10 year old son invited me to be friends with him on Facebook. “Hi mum I’m here too, can we be friends?” was the message I got. I was shocked and worried at the same time, and my initial reaction was fear of the perceived harm social media could do to a person as young as he.
 
We finally agreed that his father would have access to his Facebook account to monitor his online activities until he reaches 18. But the moment he gets or posts something inappropriate, the deal is off. That’s a fair deal, I told myself and interacting through social media could actually enrich my son’s life.
 
What I’m going through is also experienced by other families in the Solomon Islands. It started when mobile phone technology began revolutionizing the lives of ordinary Solomon Islanders in the last five years, when the telecommunications industry was opened for competition. Previously, only business executives and senior government officials owned or had access to mobile phones – a luxury only the rich and the influential would enjoy.

An Accounting System Worthy of Earth Day: Natural Capital Accounting

Rachel Kyte's picture
When presidents, prime ministers, and government ministers of more than 60 nations put their countries’ names behind natural capital accounting last year at Rio+20, something shifted. Countries wanted a better way of measuring progress that went beyond GDP and factored in nature and its services.

Clearly that was no flash in the pan. Last week, I chaired a high-level ministerial dialogue on the margins of the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings where government ministers and senior representatives of more than 40 countries came together to compare notes on how natural capital accounting is working for them.

Country after country – represented by finance, development, or environment ministers – talked about how natural capital accounting fit their countries’ priorities and how it could be a tool to address some of their key policy challenges. With each statement from the floor, it was clear that natural capital accounting is no longer an academic concept. It is alive and well and being utilized across the world in developing, middle, and high-income countries.

Talking to 4,000 Women & Men about Gender: What Surprised Us Most

Stacy Morford's picture

In a new study on gender equality, researchers asked 4,000 people in 20 countries to describe the gender norms in their communities and the influence those norms have on their lives and their every-day decisions. The researchers spoke with men and women, youth and adults, living in villages and cities in developing countries, as well as higher income countries.

Here, three of the researchers describe their most memorable experiences from the interviews and the findings that surprised them the most.

IRENA puts renewable energy on the map

Vivien Foster's picture

Global Wind Map - Screenshot from Global Atlas of Renewable Energy PotentialIt’s been clear here at the World Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi that the International Renewable Energy Agency, or IRENA, is fast emerging as a leader in forging a more sustainable energy future. With 159 countries—plus the EU— having joined it, a staff of 70 and a $28-million annual budget, IRENA held its third Executive Assembly here, making an impressive show on the sidelines of the summit. One example is its Renewable Energy Roadmap, which attracted lively interest among delegates.

Keeping the Wonder in the Pacific

Aleta Moriarty's picture
The ocean represents transport, food, culture and livelihoods for people of the Pacific.

A few years ago in Papua New Guinea on a holiday I was lucky enough to spend a day with a fisherman who took me out on his dugout canoe. For hours we slowly skimmed along the surface of the ocean, the clear water providing a wonderful lens to the world below teeming with life. Fish, starfish, coral, eels, plants—a world beyond my wildest imagination.

He pointed out the plants he ate and others he used as traditional medicine. He showed me innocuous-looking creatures that would spell certain death. He showed me the craggy hiding hole of the tail-less crocodile that was the lead character in village folklore. He showed me the fish he caught that fed his family and provided him with an income and how his father had taught him to catch them, like he too had taught his children.

Life along a road in the capital of Kiribati

Laura Keenan's picture

In South Tarawa, life takes place along a road.

It is Kiribati’s capital and main atoll, made up of several small islands connected by a string of causeways. The atoll is about three meters above sea level—roughly the height of a bus—and has an average width of just 450 meters.

It is also one of the most densely populated places in the Pacific: this narrow stretch of land encompasses about half of the country’s population of 110,000 people.

Just one road runs through it all, connecting Betio in the west to Bonriki in the east. People live beside it, it takes people from village to village, to schools and hospitals, people sell their goods by the roadside, and the flow of vehicles and people is constant.

Women outvote men to build activity hall in the Solomons

David Potten's picture
The soon to be completed women's meeting hall will house various activities to help women develop themselves.

(Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog post)

While leaving leaving the LoLoMo eco-resort, the rain seemed to carefully time its return for our last leg of the trip. We were heading back towards Munda, and then turned to yet another island to visit the Buni Village Women’s Project.  This was project was in its first year of implementation. A large hall, together with rooms for guests, toilets (not standard in the rural Solomons), benches and a large blackboard was almost complete. The local carpenter was busy there in the building, planing wood for tables and benches.

Eco-resorts booming in idyllic Solomon Islands

David Potten's picture
The garden behind the LoLoMo Resort, where hundreds of flowering wild orchids thrive.

(Read Part 1 and Part 3 of this blog post)

We walked down through mud and coral as we headed back to our boat. This marked the end of the first part of our trip – visiting health posts in Temarae and Baeroko. Our boat now went back through the narrow channel leading towards Munda, and then turned again into a series of spectacular lagoons. Several simple tourist resorts had been built on the islands here and one of these was our next destination.

The rain stopped as we approached LoLoMo eco-resort. “Idyllic” is an over-used word in the Pacific, but this resort, with eight rooms built from local materials on stilts at the edge of a sheltered channel between two islands, with hundreds of fish easily visible in the clear emerald blue water, an extraordinary “garden” of hundreds of flowering wild orchids behind the huts, oaths into the thick forest for bird-watchers to explore  and a restaurant area where we were served a magnificent spread of lobster, shellfish and sea-fish really was something out of a tourist brochure's dream world. (and for me the kittens running around were yet another attraction).

A day in the life of the Solomons Rural Development Project

David Potten's picture

(Read Part 2 and Part 3 of this blog post)

The bow of the open aluminium boat jumped from wave to wave, cutting deeply into the white-topped wave crests and adding salt spray to the rain that was showering us constantly with wind-blown pin prick-like strikes. The helmsman then turned towards the shore, slowly bringing the boat into shallow water beside a small wooden pier, where we were able to climb gingerly ashore.

The helmsman was Wilson, Team Leader for the Solomon Islands Rural Development Project (RDP) in the Western Province, and he was accompanied by Lottie, the RDP Project Manager. RDP is a Solomon Islands government project supported by the World Bank, Australia, the European Union and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Graham (my colleague on this mission) and I were in the Solomon Islands as part of an evaluation of the World Bank's work in the Pacific, funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The RDP had been selected as a case study project for us to visit.

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action on Oceans

Rachel Kyte's picture

Read this post in Français, Español

Taina Tagicakibau, permanent secretary for Fiji’s Environment Department. Credit: Mariana Kaipper Ceratti
Taina Tagicakibau, permanent secretary for Fiji’s Environment Department, reaches out to a public audience during Rio +20 to explain the need for action to restore the world's oceans to health. Photos: Mariana Kaipper Ceratti/World Bank


It was an important day for the oceans at Rio +20. With negotiations around the Rio outcome text now reaching a crucial stage, it was good to get away from all the talk about words, to actually talk about action.

At the Global Ocean Forum – a gathering of ocean thinkers and doers on the sidelines of the Rio +20 conference – I announced the official birth of the Global Partnership for Oceans. It felt good to announce that 83 countries, civil society groups, private companies, research bodies and more have joined forced to make things happen for better managed, better protected oceans. Each of them has “signed on” (by email) to the Declaration for Healthy, Productive Oceans to Help Reduce Poverty (pdf). Read it and tell us what you think.

It has been inspiring to see the excitement that has gathered around this partnership. Country after country is now talking about the crisis facing oceans, the lack of action on all the unmet promises since the last Rio conference, and the fact that it’s time for all interests – public, private, non-government – to come together around innovative solutions.

It’s time for a global platform of action.

Small Island States Set Ambitious Energy Agenda for Rio+20

Vivien Foster's picture

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Lee Siebert (Smithsonian Institution) Freshwater Lake (L'Etang) lies in the moat between Micotrin lava dome and the eastern wall of the Wotten Waven caldera, partially visible in the background. The 7 x 4.5 x wide caldera is elongated in an SW-NE direction, and it extends on the SW to near the capital city of Roseau. The two coalesced lava domes of Micotrin straddle the NE rim of the caldera. Strong geothermal activity persists in the caldera, the most prominent of which lies near the village of Wotten Waven along the River Blanc and contains numerous bubbling pools and fumaroles.The Small Island Developing States, or SIDS, include 52 countries spanning the Caribbean, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as the South China and Mediterranean Seas. They range from low-income countries such as Haiti to high-income countries like Barbados and Singapore.

Despite their diversity, many of them have a challenge and irony in common.  Being small, often remotely-located,  and usually without domestic fossil fuel reserves, these countries rely on imported fossil fuels for their energy, and bear the brunt of high and volatile  oil prices.  The irony is that many of these same islands have abundant renewable energy resources, including wind, solar, hydro and geothermal. And many are at sea-level, vulnerable to sea-level rise provoked by climate change, and highly-sensitized to the urgency of making a transition to a greener economy—a transition that would reduce their exposure to petroleum price shocks and hikes.

Gender in the Pacific: Can a report help improve equality?

Katherine Patrick's picture

As a junior member of the team who produced the forthcoming East Asia and Pacific companion to the World Development Report 2012 “Toward Gender Equality in East Asia and the Pacific”, I was excited to present its findings in the Pacific. After spending months reading, writing, reviewing and revising our findings and content, I had a plethora of questions waiting to be answered about the impact of our work:  How would our audience receive it? Will our findings, based on painstakingly collected data and research, be adapted to the reality of gender and development in their country?  Will they be able to use these reports to continue working toward gender equality in all aspects of life? Will our reports help people, namely women, lead more productive and fulfilling lives?

Last month I went to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Fiji with the rest of the team to share and discuss our findings with members of government, the media, civil society, students and our donor partners.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

One
The Promising Game-Changers in Global Development: Social Innovators

“Turning on a light, warming a house, and using an appliance are activities that most of us take for granted. But in many parts of the developing world, access to electricity is scarce. Enter “sOccket,” a soccer ball that harnesses the kinetic energy of play to generate electricity. When kicked, it creates energy that can be stored and then used later to charge a battery, sterilize water or light a room.

SOccket has received a lot of attention recently – from the likes of Aneesh Chopra, the first White House chief technology officer, to former President Bill Clinton, who called sOccket “quite extraordinary.” The attention isn’t surprising – the invention is clever, it’s creative, it’s relatively cheap, and it takes on one of the biggest challenges in the developing world.”  READ MORE


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