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Economic Tsunami looms for the Pacific

© UNICEF/Thomas Lynge Jensen

Suva, November 12 - The Pacific is faced with an economic tsunami in the form of the global economic and financial crisis.  More households will find themselves sliding into poverty, while others will find it increasingly hard to make ends meet. The urban poor, small scale and subsistence farmers, low skilled workers, internal-migrants and immigrants will find themselves facing more hardship as a result of the crisis.
 
If no appropriate action is taken, the lives of many Pacific peoples, especially women and children, stand to be shattered. This could lead to a regression in development gains made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
 
The World Bank describes the current global economic and financial crisis as a development emergency.
 
It is for these reasons that the Government of Vanuatu, together with the United Nations and other development partners, will convene a conference on the human face of the global economic crisis and its impact on the Pacific.
 
“The impact of the current crisis will depend on a variety of factors and will vary between different countries. Nevertheless, children and women in Pacific Island countries are likely to be amongst the most severely affected, and those already most vulnerable will face the greatest impacts,” said Knut Ostby, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations and Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme  (UNDP) Fiji Multi-Country Office.
 
The full impact of the global economic crisis has not yet been felt in the Pacific. This gives a small window of opportunity to Pacific Island governments to put together more thoughtful and effective policies that not only buffer the effects of the current crisis but also build resilience for future crises.
 
The conference will look at three major ways of building reinforcement to counter the impact of this economic tsunami. The first is to address the vulnerabilities faced by women and children.  The second is to find ways to enable Pacific governments to respond in creative and sustainable ways to the crisis. This includes promoting green growth and social safety nets. The final reinforcement is to build the region’s resilience in addressing future crises.
 
A report produced by UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UNDP Pacific Centre, “Protecting Pacific Island Children and Women During Economic and Food Crises: Working Edition one for Advocacy, Debate and Guidance” urges Pacific governments to use the crisis as an opportunity to start a new development paradigm.
 
“Pacific Island governments can use this crisis to jump start a new development paradigm, one in which social expenditure on children and women is at the heart of a more inclusive and sustainable pattern of economic growth in the region,” states the report.
 
The report discusses a set of new policy options to protect women, children and other members of society from being washed away in this economic tsunami. 
 
 
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Background Information:
 
The Pacific conference on “The Human Face of the Global Economic Crisis” will be held in Port Vila, Vanuatu from February 10-12, 2010. More than 200 people including government ministers, parliamentarians, development partners, UN agencies, youth and women’s groups and civil society organizations are expected to attend. The conference is organized by the Government of Vanuatu with support from the United Nations, Asian Development Bank, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the University of the South Pacific. 
 
The report “Protecting Pacific Island children and women during economic and food crises: Working Edition one for Advocacy, Debate and Guidance” can be accessed from http://www.undppc.org.fj/pages.cfm/publications/mdg-achievement-poverty-reduction-reports/
 
 
For more information, please contact:
Jean Sese, Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs on (678) 27045 or jsese@vanuatu.gov.vu or
Donna Hoerder, Communications Specialist on (679) 3300439 or dhoerder@unicef.org ; or
Shobhna Decloitre, Communications Associate on (679) 3300399 or shobhna.decloitre@undp.org

 

 
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