Australian, New Zealand and US interests cross paths in the Pacific. One need only look at a map to see why this might be so. A cursory reading of each country's history just add more weight to this claim. In Washington, however, you would be hard pressed to find many policymakers who actively consider the interests of the Pacific. Even if you do find policymakers interested in the Pacific, their interest more of than not, is seen with an Asian lens. For many, the Pacific is important, not because any intrinsic reason, but because it is the pathway to Asia.
CANZPS has initiated the project entitled: Human Security and Resiliance in the Pacific. The aim of the project is not to deny the importance of the Pacific for Asian reasons, but to add focus on the Pacific for Pacific reasons.
The world's largest ocean is home to some 8 million people, who makes their homes in one of the 22 countries or territories there. The island nations of the Pacific struggle to secure their future amidst the challenges of poverty, isolation, predatory trade practices, increasing urbanization, climate change, environmental degradation and internal conflict. Yet, in the face of these challenges the people of the Pacific continue to dream and build their communities. They deserve the attention of others, not merely because they stand between two large economic centers, but for the very fact of being themselves.
Australia, New Zealand and the US have historically deep relationships with the Pacific Island countries. Today, they represent the most significant providers of development aid to the Pacific.
To that end CANZPS has initiated the project Human Security and Resiliance in the Pacific. Dr. Lesley Russell has updated her research and will be presenting her paper entitled, "Poverty, Climate Change and Health in the Pacific Island Countries," on April 28. In addition, Fr. Frances Hezel of the Micronesian Seminar will present his research findings on the fragility of Pacific Island economies in May. Next year I will renew my class entitled "Peace and Conflict in Australasia," in which the Pacific Islands feature prominently. Dr. Patty O'Brien will continue to teach her course "Pacific World". Looking towards the future we hope to engage with scholars from Australia, New Zealand and of course from such universities in the Pacific as the University of the South Pacific and the University of Guam.