Programs and Projects
The Melanesia Program spans the Pacific Islands region but has a primary focus on the political, economic, development and social challenges facing Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu. The Program produces contemporary policy-relevant research and innovative and informed debate.
Through our research projects and events, we seek to inform and influence policy in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and the wider Asia-Pacific region, to inspire the private sector to take a greater interest in the role of foreign policy in the Pacific and to provide forums for civil society in Australia and the region to engage with government and the private sector.
Once remote from the centre of global economic activity, the Pacific Islands region now attracts increasing trade and investment from Asia and the United States, and aid from a much wider variety of new sources, including China, India, Russia and the Middle East. Interpreting the implications of this new environment for Pacific Island countries will be a key priority for the Program.
Work undertaken by the Melanesian Program on the Pacific Islands has included research on the state of governance in the region, leadership mapping, growth and poverty alleviation in PNG, health in PNG, economic challenges facing the region, political stability in Solomon Islands and Australia’s policy towards Fiji. Upcoming research projects will look at Australia's role in the region, challenges facing PNG's new government, the geopolitical footprint of Pacific aid & the impacts of the Pacific's mobile phone and social media boom.
The Program has convened two conferences in its flagship series, The Pacific Islands and the World. The first conference - in Brisbane in August 2009 - explored the impact of the global economic crisis on the region. The second - in Auckland in September 2011 - focused on the initiatives and policies required to help Pacific Islands take advantage of the new opportunities offered by increasing engagement with Asia. The program is always assessing opportunities to hold dialogues that bring Australian and Pacific government officials together with the private sector and civil society.
Developments in Papua New Guinea, including the highly anticipated general elections, will be the main focus for the Melanesia Program’s research in 2012. The Lowy Institute will be hosting a New Voices event in Port Moresby in October this year. This event will focus on providing a platform for emerging young leaders in both government and non-government and will look at a range of domestic and international trends that are changing PNG.
The Melanesia Program is funded by a generous grant from The Myer Foundation. The Program also raises additional funds from governments, the private sector and foundations for individual research projects and events.