“…the need to address violence, psychological impacts, maintain and sustain humanitarian response with dignified approaches, to sustain human security, Vanua sovereignty, rights to life and of ownerships, and the how of inclusive decision makings and good governance”

– Adivasu Levu, October 2020

The Pacific Island region is one of the most vulnerable to climate change, including intensifying climate change induced disasters, intense variations in temperatures, and extreme storms – as experienced across our region particularly since 2015 when our network recommended our priority focus to address the impact of climate change, including disasters. That year we also successfully lobbied through the 2015 Global Study on UNSCR1325 to have climate change included in UNSCR2242 (Women, Peace and Security).  In 2016, GPPAC Pacific contributed to the establishment of the Shifting the Power Coalition (StPC). The Talitha Project (Tonga) represents the network in the Coalition’s steering committee as well as the Pacific Island Feminist Alliance for Climate Justice. This is demonstrating the commitment by Pacific Island women leaders and feminists to work across the Peace-Development-Humanitarian Nexus.

 

We have recognised the need for coherent and comprehensive action that demonstrates how peacebuilding practice can inform an inclusive Climate Security Agenda. That is why we work to create channels of systematic engagement with national actors and the Pacific Islands Forum across the peace-development-humanitarian nexus in collaboration with the Shifting the Power Coalition, the Pacific Island Feminist Alliance for Climate Justice as well as the Pacific Regional NGO Alliance.

 

Our work is underpinned by the climate justice agenda has also informed the establishment of the Generation Equality WPS-Humanitarian Action Compact drawing on our network members leadership in addressing intersecting crises including COVID19 and climate change.

“For any process to be meaningful and inclusive, it is critical that we are intergenerational and intersectional in our approach to the way we do things. Young women, they are very diverse, and they come in with a wealth of information, knowledge and it is critical that they are part of this process”

– Veena Singh, June 2023

Achieving women’s participation in the Pacific remains challenging in practice.

 

The Pacific Island region has one of the highest levels of reported gender-based violence and is one region where women of all diversities remain the most under-represented in all levels of governance – political (parliament and local government) as well as traditional and community governance systems. An estimated 60 per cent of women and girls have experienced violence by an intimate partner or family member. Violence against women of all diversities is reinforced by community acceptance and impunity for perpetrators and the lack of investment in prevention strategies which need to address the lack of access to secure and adequate land tenure; housing, economic and food insecurity; inadequate provision of health and education services; and environmental vulnerability. At the same time there is a growing youth population who should be included in determining the way forward to the prevention of violence and tacking the drivers of conflict and violence.

 

The work of GPPAC Pacific is focused on informing political solutions to enhancing inclusive human security approaches to the prevention of violence and conflict by engaging with Regional Intergovernmental Organizations in particular Pacific Islands Forum. This is how we can bring the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) informed strategies to political processes.

 

This has been leveraged through the roll of the Pacific Women Mediators Network which will be implemented over the course of 60 months (commencing 1 January 2023) until 30 December 2027.

“Pacific Island Women Peacebuilders are being recognized for their consistent advocacy and bringing attention to the reality of climate security within the WPS agenda, as reflected in UN Security Council Resolution 2242. Pacific women are also bringing attention to the way in which the WPS agenda must be applied to disaster management and humanitarian action”

– Dame Meg Taylor, June 2023

It is important to recognise the contribution of Pacific Island women to the development and adoption of the Pacific Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (RAP) adopted by Pacific Forum Leaders in 2011. While the RAP on WPS (2012 – 2015) is now outdated, the relevant Pacific regional commitments on WPS include (and follow the global commitments under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Platform of Action, and WPS resolutions include The Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (PLGED), The Pacific Framework for People with Disabilities (PFRPD) and The Pacific Platform for Action for Gender Equality & Women’s Rights.

 

Launched in June 2023, the Pacific Women Mediator Network (PWMN) is a programme of GPPAC Pacific funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The PWMN is supported by a Technical Working Group reflecting our commitment to uplifting the feminist expertise of a cadre of diverse Pacific Island Women Civil Society Leaders who bring experience, knowledge and networks that reflect the legacy of Pacific Island women-led peacebuilding and activism, have led peacebuilding and political mediations and multilateral advocacy that drives greater understanding of the Pacific Island context. They work in collaboration with strategic advisors who are Pacific Island women in national governments and regional inter-governmental organisations.

 

It works to 1) facilitate and engage in political processes aimed at driving a gender-inclusive conflict prevention agenda across the Peace, Development and Humanitarian Nexus and 2) advance the inclusion and meaningful participation of women as mediators and negotiators in all phases of conflict prevention and peacebuilding in the Pacific.
By 2026 the network aims to have a cadre of 30 Pacific Island women, of which 50% will be young women, organized and resourced to lead CSO engagement in political dialogues including with local and traditional leaders.

Building on the contribution of GPPAC Pacific members in the drafting and adoption of the Pacific Regional Action Plan (2012-2015) the PWMN has recommended to Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to adopt enhanced and inclusive multistakeholder approaches to progressing the commitments of the WPS agenda in line with the Boe Declaration and Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (PLGED)

“We are continuing in the Pacific to fight for decolonization on many areas beyond just political decolonization. Self-determination for us is also economic. It’s ecological, it’s educational, and it is ideological”

– Rev James Bhagwan, June 2023

Peacebuilding in our region, requires a balancing of traditional and customary practice with modern governance including an accountability to the culture of human rights. The GPPAC Pacific approach is “weaving a new mat” to redefine processes of engagement that create a new inclusive space integrating, faith and indigenous practice into the local, national and regional development peacebuilding practice. Our programme strategy builds on the legacy of the Nuclear Free Independent Pacific movement and the leadership of the Pacific Conference of Churches in supporting the campaign for political independence in Kanaky, Maohi Nui and Papua.