Problems with the Pacific Index

Pacific Index

The Pacific Islands region faces complex, and in some instances unique, development challenges. The small size of most of the island states, long distance to major regional markets, bilateral engagement from only a handful of donors, coupled with high aid dependency and lagging performance on human development indicators, make the region deserving of more attention and research. It is this context that made the Pacific Index, a scorecard of donor performance in the region, a promising research project. Unfortunately, despite its good intentions, the Index misses the mark in three particular ways, which I will outline in this post.

What is the Pacific Index?

The Pacific Index is a joint initiative of the Alfred Deakin Research Institute and Sustineo Pty Ltd that was released in June this year. Funded by a $150,000 ARC Linkages grant, the Pacific Index takes the Center for Global Development’s Commitment to Development Index (CDI) and replicates it for the Pacific context.

The CDI takes a holistic view of rich country interactions with developing countries (beyond the conventional aid paradigm), assessing seven specific indicators and ranking donors accordingly. The Pacific Index takes these same indicators and gives them a regional focus on the Pacific. Three of these indicators (aid, migration and trade) have been re-calculated to focus specifically on contributions to the Pacific. The other four (environment, finance, security and technology) are taken directly from the CDI because they focus on rich country commitments to global public goods. Each indicator is then given an even weighting and countries are ranked based on their average score. The end product is interesting, and the authors should be commended for trialling a new approach and bringing potentially very useful data (hopefully soon to be released) together, but what do the results tell us?

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