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Let’s not forget the Pacific

The Pacific islands are a large part of our readership and present a marketing opportunity to those that know how to deal with the islands’ culture and systems.

The islands are divided into three broad groups:

  • Micronesia which includes the Marshall Islands and Kiribati
  • Melanesia which includes New Guinea, Fiji and New Caledonia
  • Polynesia which includes New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Cook Islands

The World Bank has identified that of the 20 countries in the world, with the highest average disaster loss, scaled by GDP, eight are in the Pacific. These are also the most vulnerable countries in the world to be affected by climate change.

In this environment the Pacific island nations need services, products and knowledge to assist them to prepare for, deal with, and recover from, the disasters that will inevitably impact them. Many of those in industry are of the view that there are few funds available to spend on these safety products and/or securing infrastructure. In many ways that is correct, army, fire and police services are supported by first world countries but this does not mean they are living on hand-me-downs, government and private sectors are purchasing state-of-the-art equipment.

How can this be? If you look at the metrics you will see that PNG, Fiji and Solomon Islands have significantly increased their exports, tourism is on the increase across the Pacific because of instability in other parts of the world. Pacific islands are using lateral ideas to increase GDP, an excellent example of this is Tuvalu gaining significant foreign exchange by selling its internet suffix “tv” to international television networks. GDP in some pacific nations outgrowing first world countries for example PNG growth in 2014 was 8.4% and Fiji 5.3% and a further indicator is the uptake in smart phones which has seen a doubling of phone ownership in the last five years.

There is also significant aid flowing into the islands from the USA, Japan, the EU, China and Australia. This aid is in-part for emergency services and protecting the local community and tourists.

The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (Nov 2015 update) includes provisions for security and resilience. The World Bank approved in June last year, US$32.29m for an international development assistance grant for disaster reduction. There was also US$62m for aviation safety including fire and rescue equipment in Dec 2011. There are funds available for those that search for them.

Why am I telling you this? It’s because the Pacific is no longer a place that looks only for hand-me- downs (although many first-world pieces of kit are still viable and welcome). The island nations of the Pacific can purchase modern equipment and services in all areas of disaster management from making communities and industries resilient to events, protecting the community and critical infrastructure during an event, as well as moving quickly to recover from disasters.

In summary there are opportunities in the Pacific Islands for those that put some time into researching their needs as to where the money could come from.

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Asia Pacific Fire, Editor

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