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  • Author: Catherine Wilson
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: High population growth is driving a rapid increase in the proportion of young people in Pacific Island countries, with half the region's population aged under 23. This 'youth bulge' is particularly acute in Melanesian states and will have a major impact on every area of development in the region in the coming decades. Economic prosperity, political success and social stability in the Pacific Islands region in the future will depend on harnessing this demographic dividend and preventing youth marginalisation and disillusionment. Urgent and coordinated national and regional responses should include addressing pressing health problems, expanding Australia's seasonal worker scheme, increasing migration pathways, and targeted skills and employment programs.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Migration, Politics, Employment, Youth, Population Growth, Marginalization
  • Political Geography: Melanesia, Pacific Ocean
  • Author: Ben Bohane
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: As Bougainville prepares for a referendum on independence, Australia must navigate a policy response that acknowledges the history of conflict and colonialism there, Bougainville nationalism, PNG sensitivities, the principles of the guiding Bougainville Peace Agreement and new geostrategic realities to help forge a lasting solution. Bougainville is largely ‘referendum ready’ and its people are expected to vote overwhelmingly for independence in the November referendum. While Bougainville has abundant natural resources and a skilled older generation, as an independent nation it would face many challenges including fiscal self-reliance, consensus on mining issues, unity and political integrity. Australia has a significant stake in the outcome and should step up its engagement to remain a trusted peace and security broker in Melanesia. It should not oppose Bougainville’s independence if that is the result under the referendum and peace process, and should take a leading role in ensuring a peaceful resolution between the parties.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Colonialism, Conflict, Independence, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Australia, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Melanesia
  • Author: Denise Fisher
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: As 30 years of peace agreements come to an end, stability in New Caledonia is now at risk. New Caledonia faces an uncertain future as it prepares for its last local elections under the Noumea Accord, and as it enters a four-year process ending 30 years of peace agreements. The continued stark ethnic divide over independence revealed in the November 2018 referendum, the first of potentially three such votes, revives old tensions and complicates essential discussions about future governance, which will have consequences for France, Melanesian neighbours and the wider region. While strategically Australia benefits from continued French regional engagement, its support should not be at any cost.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Political stability, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Australia, Asia-Pacific, New Caledonia, Melanesia
  • Author: Denise Fisher
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: As 30 years of peace agreements come to an end, stability in New Caledonia is now at risk. New Caledonia faces an uncertain future as it prepares for its last local elections under the Noumea Accord, and as it enters a four-year process ending 30 years of peace agreements. The continued stark ethnic divide over independence revealed in the November 2018 referendum, the first of potentially three such votes, revives old tensions and complicates essential discussions about future governance, which will have consequences for France, Melanesian neighbours and the wider region. While strategically Australia benefits from continued French regional engagement, its support should not be at any cost.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Political stability, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Australia, Asia-Pacific, New Caledonia, Melanesia
  • Author: Stewart Firth
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Domestic developments in the Pacific Island states matter more than ever to Australia. The challenges to internal resilience in the Pacific Islands are both structural — in the form of issues arising from population growth, urbanisation, land, immigration, health, and gender relations — and particular to the political situation in each Island nation. The inability of Pacific states to match service provision in cities with their growing populations is a major challenge to resilience. Of all political issues in Papua New Guinea, loss of customary land is the most likely to provoke protest and conflict.
  • Topic: Politics, Political stability, State Formation, Services
  • Political Geography: Australia, Australia/Pacific, Solomon Islands, Asia-Pacific, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia