Pacific Islands Regional Initiative assumes a responsibility for non-member, small island nations

Eliki Boletawa

Members of the Pacific Islands Regional Initiative discuss financial inclusion progress in their nations on 6 May 2015 in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Members of the Pacific Islands Regional Initiative discuss financial inclusion progress in their nations on 6 May 2015 in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Members of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) from the Pacific Islands have made a positive impact in driving financial inclusion across the region recent years. However, not all the 14 islands represented in the Pacific Islands are members of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) for reasons that include some countries not having a regulatory body or policymaking institution that is leading the work on financial inclusion.

Most of these small island nations lack resources and capacity, with financial exclusion being prevalent within. For example, the UNDP estimated in 2008 that 80 percent of low-income Pacific Islanders do not have access to formal and informal financial services. This, coupled with low levels of financial literacy, has restricted many people’s ability to realize their full economic potential, thereby having a negative impact on the overall socioeconomic development of the region.

Members of the Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) pose for a group photo in Dili, Timor-Leste, on 6 May 2015.

Members of the Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) pose for a group photo in Dili, Timor-Leste, on 6 May 2015.

For the Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI), which launched today in Dili, Timor-Leste, with a vision to ensure financial products and services are widely accessed and used by all Pacific Islanders, extending its support to the other small island nations that are not necessarily a formal part of the initiative is considered to be a great responsibility of ours.

Leveraging the knowledge of the seven members—which has accumulated over time beginning with the Pacific Islands Working Group (PIWG) before its elevation to a regional initiative—PIRI will provide the ideal platform to share the benefits to these other small island nations, and assumes a key role and must undertake this duty rather than offloading it to another entity. Talking with PIRI members about this, it is not hard come away feeling their high level of excitement about the initiative and the future of financial inclusion in the region.

To learn more about the Pacific Islands Regional Initiative, download this concept note.

Eliki Boletawa is the Head of Policy Programs and Regional Initiatives at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI).

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