Viable Economy and Human Investment Key to Create Jobs in Pacific Islands, UN
Effective partnerships with the private sector to create viable economies, and boosting investment in human development, such as in education and health, are two of the key measures the Pacific islands could take to reduce high unemployment in those countries, the most senior UN official in the Asia-Pacific region said.
Speaking Wednesday in Bangkok at the meeting on Pacific island developing countries, Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) noted that “there are continuing employment challenges, especially for youth and women, in Pacific communities.”
Historically high birth rates combined with slow economic growth have resulted in unemployment rate as high as 60% in the worst affected countries, making it difficult for new entrants to the job market.
Ms. Heyzer noted that while migration and labour mobility to richer countries and within the region had helped address the problem to some extent, “there is a need to ensure that adequate levels of skills are maintained at home, especially in critical sectors such as health and education”. She added that “a considerable gap still exists in investment in human development and building the appropriate human capacities.”
Also attending the meeting was Cheick Sidi Diarra, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. He said that “The Small Island Developing States (SIDs), as one of the most vulnerable groups of countries, require special attention and support of the international community.”
Besides the challenges posed by their small size and geographic remoteness, “environmental risks and vulnerability to natural disasters hamper their long term development,” noted Mr. Diarra. “In this respect, I would like to commend ESCAP for the special role it plays in these countries, assisting them to overcome their economic, social and particularly acute environmental vulnerabilities”.
The meeting, of the Special Body on Pacific Island Developing Countries of ESCAP, is held every two years in the run-up to ESCAP’s annual high-level Commission session. It provides inputs on how ESCAP can better serve its member States in the Pacific and strengthen links between the Pacific and Asia.
The recommendations of the meeting, which will be presented to the 64th Commission Session starting on 24 April, include creating incentives for private sector investment in transport, increasing employment opportunities in rural areas, and improving the relevance of school curricula to the needs of employers.