Building on our knowledge-exchange and research-policy work on international development cooperation with European and Pacific governance agencies, our ‘Blue Pacific’ research theme aims to better understand this nexus of Oceanic ideas as a regionalising force, and to enhance appropriate networks for a two-way Europe-Pacific research-policy partnership responsive to the new era of Blue Pacific thinking.
The Blue Pacific: Our Sea of Islands, provided the theme for the 2017 Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Samoa:
“The Blue Pacific provides a new narrative for Pacific Regionalism and how the Forum engages with the world. Let us strive to maintain focus on our priorities and not allow issues extraneous to our Blue Pacific to take dominance. Let us recapture the essence of Our Blue Pacific”. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa
“The Blue Pacific as being about all Pacific peoples comprising our ocean of islands, who recognise their needs and potential, who plan and own their development agenda, and who can act collectively for the good of all, rather than a few. The Blue Pacific is the catalyst for deeper Pacific regionalism”. Forty-Eighth PIF Communiqué
“The Blue Pacific aims to harness our shared ocean identity, geography and resources to develop policies that will drive positive change in our socio-cultural, political and economic development”. Meg Taylor, Secretary General, PIF Secretariat
It is clear that the region’s dependency on donor-recipient models in development cooperation is a thing of the past. In multi-actor geopolitical terms this gives Pacific countries choices to make. Pacific peoples have a long and distinguished history of meeting the peoples of other regions of the world in their own social and cultural terms, and of engaging with outsiders through their own economic and political interests. EU strategy already recognises that ‘the region’s new geopolitical currency is a willingness to seriously engage with emerging definitions of an equal, two-way partnership relation in Pacific terms’. Traditional think tank monopolies on influence and evidence have been broken, yet new forms of online and international research relations across the Pacific are poorly understood. The interdisciplinary research-policy challenge here is to fully grasp the implications of an emergent ‘Blue Pacific’ ideology now catalysing Pacific regionalism, and providing an imperative characterising the region’s engagements with social research.