Today the European Union and Australia agreed to strengthen support for sustainable infrastructure and development in the Pacific.
At a joint public forum at the NSW Parliament, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, discussed the infrastructure needs of the Pacific. The Asian Development Bank estimates the region requires US$3.1 billion in investment per year up until 2030 to assist in infrastructure development.
The EU's Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI) aims to increase financing for renewable and sustainable energy. Its overarching objective is to de-risk private investments aimed at improving and increasing access to energy, principally for populations living in rural, under-served areas.
Australia and the EU share a strong commitment to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as agreed to by all member states in 2015. Australia and the EU both recognise the need to support Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) in order to meet the SDGs. We also acknowledge that many Pacific countries are remote and face connectivity challenges and high infrastructure costs.
“Development finance plays an important role in supporting Pacific countries to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals, and it is essential that we also mobilise the private sector for that purpose. I'm pleased with the progress we are making with ElectriFI around the world and we approved an €8 million allocation for the Pacific last December,” said Commissioner Mimica.
"Digital connectivity is vital for economic development and lifting productivity in the modern world. We are very open to further coordination and collaboration with Australia to help Pacific countries realise their ambitions in this area," said Commissioner Mimica.
Commissioner Mimica also emphasised the important connection between investments and climate change.
“We are committed to supporting the implementation of the ‘Blue Pacific’ vision and the implementation of Pacific countries’ Climate Strategies 2050 towards more inclusive, blue and green, circular, climate-neutral and sustainable development.”
Assistant Minister Ruston welcomed the increased support and continued focus on the region by the EU. “Australia and the EU work together to promote the economic development of the Pacific. Infrastructure is a priority for countries in the region, and for both Australia and the EU. We support all infrastructure investment that is transparent, upholds international standards, meets genuine need and avoids unsustainable debt burdens for recipient countries.”
Australia’s Pacific Step-Up initiative will also deliver better economic infrastructure in the region through the $2 billion Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, along with the $1 billion increase in callable capital to the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic).
“The EU is a strong partner for the Pacific and for Australia. We share a longstanding commitment to the Pacific, and to working together to ensure aid is effective,” said Assistant Minister Ruston. “The EU and Australia coordinate development assistance across the region, and undertake joint projects on climate change, public financial management and ending violence against women and girls.”
“We want to work with our Pacific partners to build a region that is secure, stable and sovereign,” stated Assistant Minister Ruston.