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Human Development Programme start of new era

Press release

Birth of Human Development Programme start of new era for SPC

Tuesday November 13, 2006, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Noumea, 36th Committee of Representatives of the Governments and Administrations (CRGA) – A reorganisation at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community has led to the birth of a new programme which aims to deliver more effective services to all Pacific people - whether in the smallest villages or the biggest towns.

The Human Development Programme, with a 2007 budget of USD $3.6m and 18 specialist staff, has been created by the merger of four long-standing SPC programmes:

- The Community Education and Training Centre (based in Fiji) which has provided training to women community leaders and development workers since 1963;
- The Pacific Women’s Bureau (New Caledonia) created in 1982 to work with Pacific Island countries and territories to ensure that the region’s women enjoy the same opportunities as men;
- The Cultural Development Bureau (New Caledonia) which was formed in 1996 and seeks to preserve and promote Pacific Islands heritage, working in areas such as legal protection, artistic and cultural exchanges and institutional strengthening; and
- The Youth Development Bureau (New Caledonia) which since1998 has promoted awareness of the needs of young people and their participation in economic, social and cultural development.

Linda Petersen, formerly the PWB Women’s Development Adviser, has been appointed programme manager. She says the HDP will research, analyse and advise on human development issues.

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“The merger is about making sure that we make the most of our resources in working with governments and other players to help our Pacific island people make the most of themselves,” says Linda, a Fiji national and former government worker with a background in organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme and the United States Agency for International Development.

“The programmes are all interrelated. For example, gender-based violence is not just about women, but goes to the heart of human relationships, affects families, impacts the psychological development of children and young people and can affect every aspect of the very fine and diverse fabric of life in our Pacific island region, “ she says.

“For example, youth unemployment and loss of cultural heritage are cross-cutting – they affect us all in some way or another."

Linda adds that by drawing the programmes together, rather than looking at the fields they cover in isolation, “we may get stronger assurance that the often marginalised areas of human development which these programmes represent - women, youth, community and culture - are not overshadowed.

“The programme aims to be as strategic and effective as possible, and to develop strong partnerships with governments and regional entities.”

Linda says that among the HDP’s priorities in 2007 are:

- To advance major research into gender violence in Kiribati and the Solomon Islands;
- To get better statistics on life expectancy, literacy, education, and standards of living across the Pacific so that the region can be more accurately represented in global development references such United Nations’ Human Development Report; and
- To encourage wide implementation by governments of the Pacific Youth Strategy 2010. This prepares young people in the Pacific region to take responsibility for their overall development and well-being.

Richard Mann, SPC’s Deputy Director-General, today told a Noumea meeting of the agency’s overseeing body, the Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations, that the new HDP would hold meetings with regional stakeholders in late January to develop a strategic plan.

“The merger provides an exciting opportunity to adopt an even more holistic, comprehensive and analytical approach to social development issues in the Pacific,” he says.

The recommendation to create the Human Development Programme came out of last year’s meeting of the CRGA.


Notes to media:
1) The 59-year-old Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) provides technical and policy advice and assistance, training and research services to benefit Pacific Island countries and territories. A bilingual organisation (English and French), SPC works in a wide range of sectors including natural resources, health, statistics, information and communication technology and social issues. The organisation is expanding rapidly and as approximately 344 staff and a total annual budget of XPF3.4 billion (approximately USD 34 million).
SPC, which is headquartered in Noumea, New Caledonia, has gained a reputation for providing real solutions to real problems. For more information see www.spc.int.

2) SPC member countries and territories are: American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, France, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.

Papers of the meeting are available on SPC’s website: www.spc.int.


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