Reports | 26 June 2015

Melanesia New Voices: Investing in the Next Generation

The Lowy Institute for International Policy, in cooperation with the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat with the support of PACMAS and the ANZ Bank convened a Dialogue with emerging leaders from Melanesia in Port Vila, Vanuatu on 23 June.

The Dialogue, entitled Melanesia New Voices: Investing in the Next Generation, brought together 25 emerging leaders – five each from Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – to discuss common challenges, their hopes for the future of their region and opportunities for cooperation.  The Dialogue considered three principal ideas: Resilience, Innovation and Political Change. 

This Dialogue event was unique in assembling young people from a variety of sectors – including finance, law, public service, small business, civil society, information technology, and communications – from across the region outside of formal inter-governmental meetings.

The participants in the Dialogue called on Melanesian leaders to better articulate a Melanesian Way for the 21st century. This should uphold traditional Melanesian values such as a sense of community, self-reliance, and unity in diversity, and incorporate values important to young people such as gender equality, participation of disabled people and minorities, and sustainable, ethical and inclusive approaches to development.  They also called on leaders to create space for young people in Melanesia to contribute to political and economic decision-making processes. 

The Lowy Institute for International Policy, in cooperation with the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat with the support of PACMAS and the ANZ Bank convened a Dialogue with emerging leaders from Melanesia in Port Vila, Vanuatu on 23 June.

The Dialogue, entitled Melanesia New Voices: Investing in the Next Generation, brought together 25 emerging leaders – five each from Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – to discuss common challenges, their hopes for the future of their region and opportunities for cooperation.  The Dialogue considered three principal ideas: Resilience, Innovation and Political Change. 

This Dialogue event was unique in assembling young people from a variety of sectors – including finance, law, public service, small business, civil society, information technology, and communications – from across the region outside of formal inter-governmental meetings.

The participants in the Dialogue called on Melanesian leaders to better articulate a Melanesian Way for the 21st century. This should uphold traditional Melanesian values such as a sense of community, self-reliance, and unity in diversity, and incorporate values important to young people such as gender equality, participation of disabled people and minorities, and sustainable, ethical and inclusive approaches to development.  They also called on leaders to create space for young people in Melanesia to contribute to political and economic decision-making processes. 

Key Findings

  • Melanesian countries need to better cater for their growing young populations, including through establishing youth centres and targeted programs.
  • Prosperity and peace is achieved through embracing the dignity of Melanesian identity, which includes respecting the New Caledonian decolonisation process and acknowledging West Papuan aspirations for human rights and self-determination.
  • Melanesian countries are making good use of technological innovation, but infrastructure gaps and limited access to finance constrain the development of innovative small businesses.