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Strength, resourcefulness and a strong sense of community characterise the diverse people of
the Pacific. Photo: Jane Ussher
Statistics paint only part of the Pacific picture. Behind the numbers detailing the Pacific’s lack of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals are unique peoples and cultures with a wealth of natural resources, diverse and culturally strong communities and resilient and capable people.
Resources and community spirit
The huge expanse of sea around the islands of the Pacific is home to the world’s largest remaining tuna fisheries – 58 per cent of the world’s tuna is now caught in the Pacific region – extensive reef systems and significant populations of whales, sea turtles, dugongs, and saltwater crocodiles.
On land the Pacific contains old-growth forests, valuable minerals, highly productive agricultural land and areas of incredible biological diversity and natural beauty. Many tourists are drawn by the stunning beaches, vibrant cultures and arts, and the warmth of the Pacific welcome.
Within the islands themselves are communities whose strength and resilience lies in systems of community governance, customary ownership of land and history of cultural obligations to share with and serve one’s wider community.
The strength of the people
There is a strength and dynamism that springs from Pacific communities, and many are starting to bring about real and lasting change.
Capable, entrepreneurial and resourceful, people are the Pacific’s greatest strength. Papua New Guineans were among the world’s first agriculturalists, creating sophisticated systems of sustainable agriculture; and Polynesian sailing vessels have traversed great tracts of ocean with the aid of advanced navigational skills.
History and traditions are as numerous as the number of islands in the Pacific and this has created a culturally diverse region in which people are skilled in arts, music and dance.
This richness is reflected in high levels of dignity and pride in Pacific societies. There is strength and dynamism in the initiatives that spring from communities. Many are starting to bring about real and lasting change at the national level as well as locally. The inspiration from these initiatives, building on the creativity and strengths of the local communities, provides hope for the future.