What do we do?

Last Updated on ' Friday, 27 July 2012 02:55

The Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PiPP) is the leading independent think tank serving the Pacific islands community.

We exist to stimulate and support informed policy debate in the Pacific.

The following provides an overview of the work we undertook in 2011.

Stimulating debate

IN A year in which a number of countries across the Middle East and North Africa erupted in popular uprising, many questioned whether we were also inching towards a ‘Pacific Spring’. The PiPP discussion paper Youthquake (March, 2011) noted a growing disillusionment with current political systems and the self-serving antics of political big men across the Pacific. Commenting on Youthquake, Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific Editor at The Australian newspaper (5 April, 2011) said: ‘as people in the Pacific gain access to more information, they are becoming less satisfied with the levels of leadership and services in their communities. The ultimate options are unclear, but it is important to note that a debate is under way’. In the four years since PiPP was established, the institute has taken a leading role in providing an independent and safe space for informed and inclusive policy debate in the Pacific.

2011 highlights included:

  • PiPP discussion papers highlighted important, interrelated questions around political reform and governing systems (Youthquake) within the context of a rapidly urbanising, youthful population (Urban Hymns). The popular assumption that nobody goes hungry in the Pacific was challenged in the discussion paper Food For Thought, which exposed real concerns about food security in the region.
  • The Pacific Debate – PiPP’s annual premier event (pacificdebate.com) – highlighted the growing trend of urbanisation in the Pacific, as the debate teams explored what that meant in terms of government priorities, service delivery and the future of subsistence agriculture as the prevalent way of life in the Pacific.
  • MP Face to Face – a series of ‘town hall’ public meetings brought together members of parliament and their constituents for a lively discussion on key policy issues. Pioneered in Vanuatu ahead of the 2012 elections, the PiPP facilitated Q&A sessions have been broadcast live on national radio and rebroadcast on television.
  • Melanesia Face to Face – Nearly 30 years after Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu came together as a political alliance, PiPP gathered an esteemed panel of experts in Port Moresby to discuss a variety of issues around the readiness to take advantage of Melanesia’s newfound position on the global stage: Are governments and the Melanesian Spearhead Group doing enough to harness the potential of the region’s population, resources and geography?


Informing the debate

IN AN era of instant information and disinformation, governments the world over – even in the smallest of countries – face increasingly complex policy challenges. In 2011, the Pacific witnessed a particularly polarised debate on the impact of global trade as Samoa and Vanuatu joined the World Trade Organisation. The trade debate in the Pacific continues to be fuelled more by emotion and ideology than facts. There will (and should) always be disagreement on pressing policy issues, but important national debates need to be informed by reliable evidence and not just tabloid chatter. PiPP’s role as discussion starter and information interlocutor differs markedly from those seeking to directly influence the debate or steer a policy agenda. While we acknowledge our potential to influence, we put a premium on our reputation to frame and inform a debate in a balanced way.

2011 highlights included:

  •  Joining The World’s Economic Parliament – PiPP’s independent analysis of Vanuatu’s bid to join the WTO presented an accessible guide to policymakers and the general public and demolished some of the myths about joining the global multilateral trading system.
  • Legal implications of climate change conference – PiPP provided research support to members of the Republic of the Marshall Islands delegation, who co-hosted this international event with the Columbia Law School. PiPP’s participation in the discussions in New York brought attention to the thorny issues of migration and resettlement as scholars, diplomats and policymakers explored the legal ramifications for nations whose existence is threatened by rising sea levels.
  • Pacific Urban Forum – PiPP chaired discussions on strengthening partnerships between Pacific government institutions and development partners to promote more effective national urban management policies and budgetary processes.
  • K* (K-Star) – PiPP became an advisory member of the international K* alliance made up of key knowledge sector practitioners – collectively termed K* (KStar) – to foster connections and a global learning network to improve relationships between policy, practice and research and tools that can better inform policy debates.


Increasing awareness

PiPP papers, activities, events and media engagements are designed to raise awareness of the key facts relating to the major policy issues affecting the Pacific. The PiPP website and wider online presence increasingly serves as a medium for information exchange in a region that is still in its infancy in terms of internet uptake. Additionally, with the global geopolitical theatre currently playing out in the Pacific, it has become more important than ever for Pacific interests to be advanced on the international stage. PiPP provides a valuable role in helping to promote a better understanding of key regional issues and relationships through a Pacific lens.

2011 highlights included:

  • Pacific Buzz – A new product for 2011 that presents PiPP’s fortnightly digest and analysis of contemporary policy issues. The Pacific Buzz is produced in collaboration with the Development Policy Centre, and has become a must read policymakers and members of the public across the region and beyond.
  • Island Dreaming: A Fresh look at Pacific regionalism – this PiPP discussion paper helped to focus deliberations throughout 2011 on the future shape of a rapidly changing region in light of the great geopolitical forces at play, the continued attempts to define a regional agreement on closer economic relations and the role of sub-regional groupings. The year ended with the Polynesian Leaders Group established as an international governmental cooperation group, in a similar vein to the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
  • How To Win Friends And Influence Policy in the Pacific – PiPP contributed this think piece to an investigation by Australia’s Office of Development Effectiveness into the internal and external factors that make successful policy dialogue within the contexts in which AusAID works. PiPP also informed an Australian audience, as part of a special One Just World panel discussion filmed in Canberra, on how the recommendations of the Independent Review of Australian Aid Effectiveness and the Australian government’s response could best impact development in Pacific nations.
  • Pacificpolicy.org – Improvements to PiPP’s online presence have resulted in a ten-fold increase in reach over the course of 2011. PiPP is also regularly called upon by regional and international organisations, research institutions and media for commentary on public policy and political issues – a selection of media coverage is published on the institute’s website.

Improving research

PiPP is primarily a network initiative, and was established primarily to help get the key messages from the existing research base into the live policy debate. Within the worlds of research and policy there is growing awareness of this intermediary role that PiPP has pioneered in the Pacific, which seeks to ensure that research directions are informed by the potential users, users are strategically involved in the research and research findings are accessible and actually used in decision making.

2011 highlights included:

  • Melanesia Poll – in a first for the region, PiPP piloted a simultaneous telephone poll across the four Melanesian countries (Fiji, PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu). Released in the lead up to the annual Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders’ meeting, the poll explored key international relationships, the Fiji political situation and West Papuan independence.
  • Net Effects – PiPP undertook the third year of its tracking study into the social and economic impact of the telecommunications revolution that has gripped the Pacific. The in depth look at the Vanuatu experience since 2008, informed by an extensive household level survey, has sparked further analysis across the region including a four country study by the International Finance Corporation using a similar methodology.
  • Improving public policy: A North Pacific case study – a summary paper of the PiPP pilot study that brought together key stakeholders in the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to better understand the current policy environment and identify pragmatic strategies to strengthen policy processes.
  • Oceania Development Network – In 2011, PiPP joined the ODN advisory committee in an effort to improve this regional research network. Other ODN affiliates that joined the advisory network include the Universities of Guam, French Polynesia and New Caledonia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea; the Solomon Islands College for Higher Education (SICHE) and the National Research Institute of PNG.



PiPP was established under the Vanuatu Charitable Associations (Incorporation) Act [CAP.140] on 21 November 2007.

We are located at:

4th floor Datec Innovation Centre
Lini Highway
Port Vila

Mail to: PMB 9034
Port Vila

Tel/fax: +678 29842

Email us on pipp@pacificpolicy.org

pacific-politics-dec pacificpolitics.com is our new home for news an analysis of the Pacific by bloggers and reporters highlighting the important issues in the region. Click to find the latest coverage of news, politics, economics and culture from PiPP's regional network.

PiPP is pleased to present its latest tool in understanding the state of mobile phone and internet use in Vanuatu. This infographic encapsulates the key findings from our 2011 study of social and economic effects of telecoms in Vanuatu. Please contact us for a printed copy or click here for the downloadable graphic.