What is the "Blue Pacific" and why is it important?
By Vivienne Storey
'Oceania is us. We are the sea. We are the ocean. We should not be defined by the smallness of our islands, but the greatness of our oceans.' (Epeli Hau’ofa)
The "Blue Pacific" is a term that was established to describe the region of the Pacific Ocean, its island nations, and their collective interests. The term was first used in 2017 at the Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa by the Pacific Island leaders. The Blue Pacific concept is based on the idea that the Pacific Ocean and its island nations are not just a collection of individual states but a single, interconnected entity that is united by shared geography, culture, and challenges.
The Blue Pacific was established to provide a framework for cooperation and collaboration between the Pacific Island nations. The region faces a range of shared challenges, including climate change, overfishing, marine pollution, and economic development. These challenges are amplified by the unique vulnerability of Pacific Island nations, which are often small and isolated, and therefore face significant obstacles in addressing these issues alone.
The establishment of the Blue Pacific was driven by the Pacific Island leaders' recognition of the need for a unified approach to addressing the challenges facing the region. The leaders recognized that the region's collective interests were best served by working together to promote sustainable development, protect the environment, and promote regional security and stability.
One of the primary objectives of the Blue Pacific is to ensure that the Pacific Island nations have a greater say in global affairs. The region has often been overlooked or marginalized in international decision-making processes, despite the fact that it is home to some of the world's smallest and most vulnerable states. By working together as a unified bloc, the Pacific Island nations can amplify their voices and make their concerns heard on the global stage.
Another important objective of the Blue Pacific is to promote sustainable development and environmental protection in the region. The Pacific Ocean is one of the world's most important ecosystems, home to a rich and diverse range of marine life. However, the region is facing significant environmental challenges, including overfishing, pollution, and climate change. By working together to promote sustainable development and protect the environment, the Pacific Island nations can ensure the long-term viability of their region's natural resources.
The Blue Pacific is also focused on promoting regional security and stability. The region has faced a range of security challenges in recent years, including transnational crime, terrorism, and territorial disputes. By working together to promote regional security, the Pacific Island nations can ensure that their region remains a safe and stable place for their citizens.
Overall, the establishment of the Blue Pacific represents a significant step forward for the Pacific Island nations. By working together as a unified bloc, the nations can address the challenges facing their region more effectively and ensure that their collective interests are represented on the global stage. The Blue Pacific is an important example of the power of regional cooperation and collaboration in addressing complex global challenges, and its success will be closely watched by other regions facing similar challenges.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. (2017). The Blue Pacific: Our Sea of Islands, Our Security through Sustainable Development, Our Prosperity through Unity. Retrieved from https://www.forumsec.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/2017-Forum-Leaders-Communique.pdf
Government of Samoa. (2017). Samoa Declaration on the Pacific Climate Change. Retrieved from https://www.pacific.undp.org/content/pacific/en/home/library/samoa-declaration-on-the-pacific-climate-change.html
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. (2019). Blue Pacific Narrative: Embracing a Pacific of Shared Ocean, Shared Prosperity and Shared Identity. Retrieved from https://www.forumsec.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/The-Blue-Pacific-Narrative-August-2019.pdf
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. (2021). Blue Pacific. Retrieved from https://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/pacific/blue-pacific
United Nations Development Programme. (2021). Blue Pacific. Retrieved from https://www.pacific.undp.org/content/pacific/en/home/blue-pacific.html