30 years

Policy change to drive green growth

A knowledge platform for the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) on green growth is helping to drive exchanges across ministries and agencies in five Pacific countries for a more sustainable future. The focus is on supporting collective policy formulation across the group's five widely dispersed island states – Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS), from New Caledonia – to produce a common plan for green growth. This is a strategy to ensure sustainable livelihoods while conserving the environment and local jobs, considered a crucial policy move to build resilience to climate change in this vulnerable area.

MSG has been pursuing policy change since it held a summit in March 2012, when it made declarations on green growth, blue carbon and climate change. But until now, communication has relied mainly on two meetings per year with policy-makers from the MSG countries. While important, these face-to-face encounters have had a limited impact, due to the complexity of the topics under discussion and the wide range of ministries involved.

With CTA support, a knowledge platform is helping to bring everyone together, providing a real-time communication back-up between meetings.

The number of people involved and the scattered nature of their geographical locations meant that a more structured approach was needed than straightforward email communication. There was also a need to involve technical partners such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and UNESCAP to provide technical assistance to the initiative. Since this platform seeks to assist policy formulation, providing a private online place for discussion has been an important issue in deciding which tools to use and provide an exclusive space for all the ministries involved.

After carefully analysing the requirements, CTA has helped MSG to develop a knowledge platform using email discussion groups based on GroupSpaces software – a private space that allows a closed communication channel between the 70-80 people involved in discussions from the various ministries. The Centre has also supported MSG in developing its website about the green growth framework. CTA funded a moderator to coordinate the system and has offered technical help in developing it.

"Each of the five countries has several ministries involved in formulating green growth policy," said Chris Addison, CTA Senior Programme Coordinator for Knowledge Management. "It's important to keep all those people in the loop."

It is still early days. The five MSG countries have been using the system for just a year, but already there are signs of success.

"The people involved already see this as a core part of their work and it has certainly helped with coordinating across five countries," said Addison. "The system has effectively helped to develop a policy network. It has made their lives a lot easier."

MSG members agree.

"It has been exciting to see people using it, especially the email discussions," said Monica Abau-Sapulai, who manages Information Technology/Knowledge Management for MSG. "Moving forward, it will give us tools for more live checking and collaboration."

"It's an exciting journey – knowledge sharing with our member governments, which we are starting to do through this programme, and of course, learning from the experiences and developments happening in other parts of the world, which CTA is helping to spearhead," added MSG Director Peter Forau.

"We think it's a very important tool, not only to disseminate information from the leaders, and policy issues that have come from the leaders back to the membership, but also gauging at national level what their take is on the green growth itself," said Laisiana Tugaga of the Green Growth Framework, MSG.

Intra-country deliberations made more efficient by the knowledge platform are proving key in the run-up to the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) meeting in Samoa, due to be held in September 2014, helping countries to refine and formulate their policies on the Green Growth Framework. Encouraged by the success of the system, MSG has asked CTA to help them develop an information communication and knowledge management (ICKM) strategy.

For more information:
Melanesian Spearhead Group