Pacific situation summary
The Pacific region is rich in diversity. The essayist Epeli HAU'OFA calls it :"Our sea of islands" (A new Oceania: rediscovering our sea of islands, 1993). The region stretches some 10 000 km from east to west and 5 000 km from north to south, with a combined exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of close to 30 million km2.
The Pacific is the world's largest ocean, with about 30,000 islands with high ecosystems diversity, ranging from offshore marine realms, coral reefs, shoreline atolls, mangroves, coastal plains, lowland forests, mountain forests and wetlands. It faces high demographic and urban growth, complex issues as regards resource exploitation (mining, fishing and agriculture) and many Pacific island countries strongly rely on development aid. The region comprises 22 independent countries and territories, ranging from very large countries like Australia (7.682.300 km2) to very small ones, such as Pitcairn (40 km2). It has a great diversity of political regimes and statutes and presents an extraordinary cultural and linguistic variety.
The Pacific Islands constitute living laboratories as regards biological evolution and diversity and in terms of nature/culture interactions.
The Pacific-EU Partnership
The EU has a long-standing development partnership in the Pacific, involving 15 independent countries and four Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT), as well as Australia and New Zealand, two like-minded strategic partners and donors.
In 2004, Pacific Leaders adopted a Vision encapsulating Pacific Islanders' aspirations. The Pacific Plan (2005) gives effect to the Pacific Leaders' Vision and to the goal of regional integration. The EU Strategy for the Pacific, adopted in 2006, was the initial EU response to the Plan, through increased development assistance and enhanced political dialogue, both with the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and with Australia and New Zealand.
In March 2012, the EU decided to engage in "a renewed EU-Pacific development Partnership".
That strong partnership with the Pacific is important for the EU's external action:
- Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTS), caretakers of a sizeable part of the planet, share with the EU concerns and aspirations about sustainable development
- Pacific Countries, Australia, New Zealand and the EU represent 42 votes in the United Nations (UN) and form a significant group in international fora
- The Pacific Ocean is vital for the future of the planet, for its function as a carbon sink and for its unique and rich biodiversity and ecosystems
- The Pacific is important for EU's sustainable access to a wide range of natural resources
- The Pacific Islands, and in particular Papua New Guinea (PNG), represent potential opportunities for the EU business sector
- The EU is a global actor with responsibility to support Pacific Islands Countries and Territories (PICTS) to attain the Millennium Development Goals, to conserve and restore biodiversity, as well as address climate change
More specifically, in terms of Research and Innovation policies, the EU aims at:
- Improving relationships with Australia and New Zealand, as well as developing a regional approach for Research and Innovation with ACP islands and the PICTS located in the South Pacific
- Supporting the institutional policy dialogue under the bilateral S&T agreements signed by countries such as Australia and New Zealand
- Promoting bilateral cooperation between research and innovation actors
- Promoting synergies between EU policies and programmes addressing targeted countries in the Pacific and facilitating the coordination of research projects and initiatives supported by EU programmes and by the Member States and/or associated countries
- Monitoring progress in the bilateral S&T cooperation
The EU has decided to involve civil society, local authorities, the private sector and also research communities, by supporting regional networking and Pacific-EU partnerships and by promoting public interest and debate in Europe on issues of common concern for the Pacific Islands Countries and Territories and its people.
The bi-regional dialogue platforms on S&T between the EU and the 15 member countries of the Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Group of the Pacific region.
The EU, which maintains a long standing relationship with the Pacific, aims to enhance its profile and reinforce cooperation in STI with the region and promote the development of mutually beneficial partnerships.
ProjectsPACENET PLUS (2013-2016)
"Pacific Europe Network for Science, Technology and Innovation" is a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) that aims to:
- Support the EU-Pacific policy dialogue in STI, including dialogue on innovation issues .
- Reinforce the EU-Pacific STI cooperation, focusing on 3 major societal challenges
- Health, demographic change and wellbeing
- Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bio economy
- Climate action, resource use and efficiency, and raw materials
- Encourage the coordination between the EU and Member States STI programmes and policies targeting the Pacific by promoting the implementation of joint actions .
- Enhance cooperation on innovation issues, by helping to bridge the gap between public and private sectors `
DG Research and Innovation
Policy Officer - R&I Relations with Pacific
Unit RTD C1 - Policy Coordination, EFTA and Enlargement countries, Russia, Asia and Pacific
Tel: (+32) 229 65170