Excerpt from orfonline.org
The Global Narrative about the Pacific largely focuses on the geo-strategic competition that is playing out in the region. China is seeking new security deals with Pacific Island countries, prompting intensified diplomatic engagement with the region from Australia and its democratic allies. Strategists are concerned that greater regional security ties with Beijing, coupled with targeted Chinese political engagement and concessional finance, may over time help China establish a naval base in the region to support a blue water navy extend its global reach.
The inhabitants of the Pacific themselves see security through a fundamentally different prism and have made it clear that they see climate change as their most serious security risk. They express impatience with the strategic rivalry between their external partners, alarm at signs of greater militarisation in the region, and frustration that the international community has been giving climate change less attention than they believe it deserves. As the then Fijian Defence Minister put it in 2022:
In their 2018 Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) security declaration, the region’s leaders made it clear that they saw climate change as “the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.” This sentiment in the ‘Boe Declaration’ lies at the core of other important regional statements and documents. It is central to the PIF’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent which sets out the Pacific community’s thinking on a pathway to a more secure, resilient, and prosperous regional future.