Programs & Projects

The Pacific Islands Program

The Pacific Islands Program

A focus on Pacific Islands has been a central component of the Lowy Institute’s work for more than a decade. We research contemporary challenges facing the Pacific islands region in areas including geostrategic competition, sustainable economic development, governance and leadership challenges, poverty alleviation, and Australia’s relationship with Pacific countries and organisations. We also hold major conferences, workshops, dialogues and exchanges. We have produced influential work on Australia’s Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands, the 2006 Fiji Coup, normalising Australia’s bilateral relationship with Fiji, Australia’s bilateral relationship with Papua New Guinea, the future development challenges of Papua New Guinea, the economic benefits of greater labour mobility between Australia and the South Pacific, security and resilience dynamics in the Pacific, and foreign aid flows in the Pacific.

The Institute manages four major projects focusing on the Pacific:

The Pacific Research Program (PRP) is a consortium partnership between the Lowy Institute and the Australian National University’s Department of Pacific Affairs and Development Policy Centre, with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The PRP is designed to be a globally pre-eminent centre of excellence for research on the Pacific. Read more details .

The program contributes to the Lowy Institute Pacific Aid Map which is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is designed to enhance aid effectiveness in the Pacific.

The Australia-PNG Network is a project supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, designed to foster people-to-people links between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Read more details.

The South Pacific Fragile States Project was a project supported by the Department of Defence to produce independent research and forward looking analysis on the key drivers of instability in the South Pacific and the associated security challenges for Australia and the wider region. Read more details.

The Mapping Foreign Assistance in the Pacific Project

The Lowy Institute Pacific Aid Map is an analytical tool designed to enhance aid effectiveness in the Pacific by improving coordination, alignment, and accountability of foreign aid through enhanced transparency of aid flows. The Pacific Aid Map has collected data on close to 13,000 projects in 14 countries supplied by 62 donors from 2011 onwards. All data has been made freely available on this interactive platform, allowing users to investigate and manipulate the information in a variety of ways. The Pacific Aid Map is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Country profiles from Pacific Islands countries can be found here.

The Chinese Aid in the Pacific map is no longer maintained, and the data can be found in the Acidic Aid Map.

Experts
Latest publications
News and media
Director, Pacific Islands Program
Deputy Director, Indo-Pacific Development Centre
Research Fellow, Pacific Islands Program
Research Associate, Pacific Aid Map
FDC Pacific Fellow, Pacific Islands Program
FDC Pacific Fellow
Project Director, Australia-PNG Network
Nonresident Fellow
Nonresident Fellow
Nonresident Fellow
The bigger political game in the Pacific
The bigger political game in the Pacific
Nic Maclellan’s critique of our Lowy Institute policy brief, Geopolitics in the Pacific Islands: Playing for advantage, offers not so much of an alternative argument, but…
The state of play in PNG: A momentous start to 2024
The state of play in PNG: A momentous start to 2024
In his first international engagement for the year, James Marape has made history as the first prime minister from Papua New Guinea (or any Pacific Island State) to address the…
Geopolitics in the Pacific Islands: Playing for advantage
Policy Briefs
Geopolitics in the Pacific Islands: Playing for advantage
Competition among development partners in the region needs to be harnessed to lift standards and development outcomes.
Nauru’s diplomatic switch to China – the rising stakes in Pacific geopolitics
Nauru’s diplomatic switch to China – the rising stakes in Pacific geopolitics
Nauru’s decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China has nothing to do with Australia. It reflects the intense geopolitical competition in the Pacific and the…
Pacific Change Makers: NZ High Commissioner Dame Annette King on the Pacific, geopolitical competition, and her time serving in Australia
Podcasts
Pacific Change Makers: NZ High Commissioner Dame Annette King on the Pacific, geopolitical competition, and her time serving in Australia
In this episode of Pacific Change Makers, Research Fellow of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program Dr Jess Collins speaks with Dame Annette King about her role as New…
Bougainville's future weighs on PNG's political stability
Commentary
Bougainville's future weighs on PNG's political stability
Originally published on The Economist Intelligence Unit
China and Taiwan are big Pacific donors – but not for gender equality
China and Taiwan are big Pacific donors – but not for gender equality
This year, Lowy Institute researchers used Pacific Aid Map data among other sources to ascertain how much aid has been spent on gender equality initiatives in the Pacific between…
Digital dominoes: Australia’s strategic play in the Pacific
Digital dominoes: Australia’s strategic play in the Pacific
Pacific Island countries, with their sprawling geography, have been caught in a digital divide. Lack of critical, digitally enabling infrastructure slows down development progress…
Pacific Islands News Association
6 February 2024
ABC's Saturday Extra
5 February 2024
The Australian Financial Review
10 November 2023
Kommersant
9 November 2023
The Australian Financial Review
17 October 2023