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Virtual Event – Addressing the Covid-Related Challenges Facing the Pacific Islands

Event: Wednesday, June 30, 2021, Washington, DC

While swift measures on border control taken by Pacific Island governments to contain the spread of Covid-19 spared the region a health crisis on the scale faced in other parts of the world, the social and economic implications of the pandemic have been catastrophic for the region’s fragile economies. Rising unemployment in the tourism and other sectors, along with inflation, has placed tremendous strain on households to meet basic needs and cope with a spike in gender-based violence. The pandemic has laid bare the precarious nature of earlier gains in women’s labor force participation, underscoring the particular vulnerability of women engaged in informal work. In addition, the Covid crisis has exacerbated existing susceptibility of workers in the Pacific Islands region to the uptake of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. The region is one of the world’s most disaster-prone areas, with climate change contributing to the increasing occurrence of devastating tropical storms, cyclones, drought and flooding, as well as the growing threat of sea-level rise to vulnerable peoples and livelihoods in the sectors at greatest risk of climate impact. Further challenges revealed and intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic include the dangerous vulnerabilities in the Pacific’s digital information ecosystems. Despite efforts by the region’s governments and civil society to communicate effectively with citizens through social media, false and harmful information online has led to public confusion about the virus and hampered public health initiatives.

This event convened Asia Foundation experts for a discussion that highlighted opportunities to shift thinking, systems, and structures through proactive policies and reforms that support a transition toward greener, more resilient economies, a more inclusive labor force, and reliable and transparent information flows.

Ellen Boccuzzi, Senior Advisor, The Asia Foundation
John Karr, Senior Director for Technology Programs, The Asia Foundation
Sandra Kraushaar, Pacific Islands Director, The Asia Foundation
Milika Sobey, Pacific Islands Program Manager, The Asia Foundation

Kim McQuay, Managing Director of the Program Specialists Group, The Asia Foundation

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