The COVID-19 crisis is a test of resilience for PSIDS, in safeguarding progress against the SDGs, Paris Agreement, and the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway. While the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Pacific is relatively limited (only 18 confirmed cases in Fiji and no confirmed cases in other 9 PICTs namely FSM, RMI, Palau, Tuvalu, Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands covered by MCO Fiji) at mid-April 2020, this has already come at a cost of complete lockdown with mounting social and economic consequences, which small island developing countries find themselves hard to manage. It is already clear that the pandemic will not just go away in the near future and it will be accompanied with a significant disruption in the movement of goods, services and people, which in itself will negatively affect such industries as tourism, shipping, fishing, etc. those that constitute a significant share in the overall national product of the region. Those industries incidentally are also the biggest formal and informal employers, and increased unemployment will acerbate already tense social structures particularly affecting vulnerable groups such a women, youth, and small entrepreneurs.
With significant reduction in remittances and lost revenues, Pacific Islands will have hard times to balance their budgets. They will be forced to make hard decisions to juggle between different development priorities to ensure, on the one hand, an adequate stimulus to their economies and maintaining productive capacities and employment, and on the other, provide adequate social services and protection to those needed. This has to happen against the background that all countries are in their difficult development pathways where pre-COVID-19 challenges have not gone away and it is exactly the moment when the UN system along with other international partners need to come to support them to “build back better”.
Areas of interventions
UNDP together with RCO and other UN agencies will be supporting in all 3 pillars.