“The current Plan mixes high level vision and objectives with a listing of priorities and implementation details”, noted SPC’s Director General, Dr Jimmie Rodgers.
But he expressed concern that the Plan’s existing governance and reporting arrangements do not fully acknowledge the architecture of Pacific regional organizations.
“SPC is the Plan’s largest implementing agency, but this is not always adequately recognised”, Dr Rodgers said. To highlight how SPC’s work incorporates many of the Pacific Plan priorities, SPC produces its own regular publication, entitled “SPC and the Pacific Plan.”
Refreshing the Plan
The Pacific Plan Review team, led in their mission to New Caledonia by the Right Honourable Sir Mekere Morauta, KCMG, has been tasked by Pacific Forum Leaders to consider how the Pacific Plan could be “refreshed” to better meet the region’s needs.
Dr Rodgers offered several suggestions, noting that for the Plan to be truly pan-Pacific in nature, it needs to “consider how best to involve non-Forum members in the governance arrangements at the political level, to ensure it is inclusive of all island countries and territories.”
Related to this, he observed that political ownership of the commitments set out in the Plan “is crucial.”
Dr Rodgers also suggested that “there needs to be an improved and commonly agreed analytical and prioritisation process” for the Pacific Plan.
“This process should identify public goods or services that need to be provided at the regional level in order to achieve national development outcomes across the region” he said.
In addition, he cautioned that “priorities must be linked to resources for implementation”.
A Charter, rather than a Plan?
In presenting his views on the Pacific Plan to the team Dr Rodgers also discussed the Plan’s history. He recalled being a member of the ‘Reflections Group’ in 2004, which had expressed enthusiasm for labelling the framework under development a high level “Pacific Charter”, rather than a regional “plan”.
A similar view was presented by the Review team in their “Review Note 4: Defining Regionalism” (available to the public online). They noted that, “in the absence of decisions on pooling sovereignty, regional systems for budgeting and spending funds, transfers across the region, and the subordination of national development plans to the Pacific Plan,” the Plan clearly did not currently qualify as a regional development plan. They further noted that “It has not proved possible to find any examples of regional development plans elsewhere”.
Six countries remain to be visited by various members of the Review team over the coming weeks: Nauru, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and Fiji. The team then plans to present its interim findings in late May.