Urbanisation in the Island Pacific: Towards Sustainable Development

Urbanisation in the Island Pacific: Towards Sustainable Development

Urbanisation in the Island Pacific: Towards Sustainable Development

Urbanisation in the Island Pacific: Towards Sustainable Development

Synopsis

This is the first overview of urbanization in eleven independent island states of the Pacific. It examines recent rapid growth, urban economy and society, and environmental consequences of over-urbanization in terms of contemporary urban planning and options for sustainable development.

Excerpt

The origins of this book began when we separately arrived on the shores of the Pacific in the 1970s and became immersed in the diversity of island development issues. More recently, we both participated as researchers in the Pacific 2010 project initiated by Rodney Cole at the National Centre for Development Studies (NCDS). Our contribution to the research was to analyse and evaluate problems of urban management in the region and led to a series of visits to Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia between 1992 and 1996. These followed earlier visits and subsequent visits followed.

Though there have been many studies of particular aspects of urban growth and development in the Pacific, there has never been an attempt hitherto to compare the processes and outcomes of urbanisation within the region's independent states. This is not surprising. They are small countries, distant from each other, possessing a wide range of development problems and distinctive orientations to different former colonial powers. More significantly, their urban areas have generally escaped detailed academic attention, unlike the burgeoning cities of Asia, and data are unusually fragmented and difficult to obtain. Most data and most studies have emerged from Melanesia - which has three-quarters of the towns in the Pacific - hence, inevitably, this book has tended to have a Melanesian focus. Seeking to develop a comparative perspective on contemporary urban change in the Pacific has been a costly, sometimes frustrating, but necessary exercise. We have made the attempt because a baseline was needed to mark the advent of what some have termed the 'Pacific Century', and to examine the notion of sustainable urban development in a region that is in rapid transition. One example of that was the change in name of Western Samoa to Samoa in 1998, hence both names are used here according to context.

As the final draft was near completion, the rapidity and unpredictability of that transition became evident in a violent coup in Fiji in May 2000 that resulted in lost lives and a devastated economy, followed by a 'copycat coup' in Solomon Islands. Both were a response, in part, to ethnic tensions that were particularly evident in the capital cities, and to the problems of urbanisation itself. One outcome was migration - renewed emigration from Fiji and urban-rural migration in Solomon Islands - as a certain peace was slow to be restored in what was increasingly becoming referred to, by external observers,

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