Strengthening communities and the voice of civil society in regional and international policy-making is the aim of a three-year program launched in Suva today by the European Union Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, H.E. Andrew Jacobs.
Raising Pacific Voices (RPV) is a pilot program supported by the European Union with 2.3 million euros (FJ$5.46m). The Pacific Regional NGO Alliance (PRNGO Alliance) and its members’ networks located in 10 Pacific countries are the primary beneficiaries of this program, with plans to spread benefits widely and sustainably across the region.
The RPV program’s uniqueness is that it will produce capacity-building packages contextualised for each sub-region – Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia. The program is further expected to generate a pool of 40 trainers representing the three sub-regions, trained in strengthening civil society governance and financial systems, influencing capabilities, constituency building and collective actions.
The project will be implemented by Oxfam in the Pacific and the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) working together with the PRNGO Alliance members in Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Samoa, Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.
While launching the program, Ambassador Jacobs said; ”An empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and is an asset in itself. It represents and fosters pluralism and can contribute to more effective policies, equitable and sustainable development and inclusive growth. The European Union is proud to help strengthen civil society and the role it plays in the Pacific. The Raising Pacific Voices program will play a key role in this capacity-building across the region and the EU is delighted to actively support this ambitious initiative covering 10 countries across the Pacific.
”Raising Pacific Voices will strengthen the capacity of civil society to drive the agenda for sustainable development and enhanced democracy and the rule of law in a way that reflects the interests and needs of Pacific people. It will help civil society to understand and influence complex policy processes at regional and global levels so that the Pacific voice can be heard. The EU remains a committed and genuine partner of the Pacific region and its diverse and rich civil society,” added Ambassador Jacobs.
Setareki Macanawai, Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Disability Forum said: “As the focal point of the PRNGO Alliance, this program provides an excellent opportunity for the wider PRNGO network to work with civil society organisations on the ground to enhance their effectiveness in the democratic and governance processes.
“Collaborative working across all partners and members of the PRNGO Alliance, through PDF as focal point, should spread the impacts of the Raising Pacific Voices program across our region. We hope the benefits start from the community level and eventually reach the national and regional stages. There is also the added benefit of mainstreaming disability issues within the work of all our partners in the three sub-regions of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.”
Raijeli Nicole, Regional Director of Oxfam in the Pacific said: “Oxfam in the Pacific is working with the PRNGO Alliance through PDF to strengthen the Alliance’s links to its constituency and collaboration across the region.”
“The Raising Pacific Voices program hopes to build on the relationships that already exist among Pacific peoples and communities while responding to some of the perceptions about civil society organisations in the region. It addresses some of the long-standing critiques about Pacific civil society including the strength of their governance, financial and human resources systems and how organisations can work collaboratively across the region on common issues.”
Oxfam in the Pacific has partnered with the PDF as the focal point of the PRNGO Alliance to help spread the benefits of the program as widely as possible. The three civil society partners, who work at national and regional levels, were selected from each of the sub-regions after an open call to pilot the development of capacity-building packages around institutional strengthening and policy influencing.
Mere Nailatikau, Regional Media and Communications Coordinator, Oxfam in the Pacific│ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Mobile: +679 9994874
Mohammed Nazeem Kasim, Press and Information Officer, Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific │Email: Mohammed-Nazeem.KASIM@eeas.europa.eu │Phone: +679 3313 633 │Mobile: +679 867 2255 or +679 9920 597