Australia and the European Union have confirmed support for the Pacific region's economic development aspirations and its priorities for sustainable infrastructure and development.
At a joint public forum at the NSW Parliament, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and Australia's Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, discussed the infrastructure needs of the Pacific, as a vital platform for economic growth. Many Pacific countries are remote, and face connectivity challenges and high infrastructure costs. The Asian Development Bank estimates the region requires US$3.1 billion in investment per year up until 2030 to assist in infrastructure development.
Australia's Pacific Step-Up will help Pacific nations achieve their economic aspirations and support the private sector through a $2 billion Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, along with a $1 billion increase in callable capital to the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic).
The EU's Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI) aims to increase financing for renewable and sustainable energy. Its overarching objective is to de-risk private investments aimed at improving and increasing access to energy, principally for populations living in rural, under-served areas. ElectriFI is part of the EU's wider support for investments in the Pacific, to which it has dedicated 77 million euros to 2020. The EU support is expected to increase significantly in the next financial period, helping to leverage - through the European External Investment Plan - up to one trillion euros of investments in EU partner countries, including in the Pacific region.
Together with countries in the Pacific, Australia and the EU share a strong commitment to the United Nations' 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as agreed to by all member states in 2015.
"Development finance plays an important role in supporting Pacific countries to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals, and it is essential that we also mobilise the private sector for that purpose. I'm pleased with the progress we are making with ElectriFI around the world and we approved an €8 million allocation for the Pacific last December," said Commissioner Mimica.
Commissioner Mimica also emphasised the important connection between investments in infrastructure to address the impacts of climate change in the Pacific.
Assistant Minister Ruston welcomed the increased support and continued focus on the Pacific region by the EU. "As a member of the Pacific family, Australia wants to work closely with all our partners to build a region that is secure, stable and sovereign."