Communique 1999

Population and Development;

Population Growth, Migration and Reproductive Health Issues

4th Student Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, 20-27th September, 1999


The 4th SPICOL (Student Pacific Conference of Leaders) Conference was held in Honiara from the 20th - 27th of September 1999. The following Leaders were present: the Presidents of the Republic of Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Premier of Niue and the Prime Ministers of Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and the Host country Solomon Islands.

The theme of the conference was "Population and Development; Population Growth, Migration and Reproductive Heath Issues".

We the SPICOL leaders of the Pacific Region came together to identify, discuss and resolve issues associated with population and development. The three areas that we have been concerned with have been population growth, migration and reproductive health.



2.1 Population Issues

2.1.1 Population Growth/Development

The current population statistics have shown that by the turn of the century the populations of the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) will have 7 million people growing at a rate of approximately 150,000 persons per year. With the current growth rate, it is expected that the doubling time of the population is 35 years. Therefore, by 2033 the PICs population will increase from 7 to 14 million people.

It is also revealed in the 1998 population statistics, that the Marshall Islands and the host country Solomon Islands have the highest natural population growth rates annually at 4.2% and 3.4% respectively. Under the three sub-regional groups in the Pacific, Micronesia has the highest natural population growth rate of 2.7% annually, with a doubling time of 26 years. Problem Statement

Excessive population growth puts strains on our material resources, infrastructure and the natural environment. The current rate of population growth is unsustainable given current resources, thus: recognising the need for urgent action.

2.2 Migration Issues

Migration issues affect our Pacific nations. Unchecked emigration means that there is a potential for a 'brain drain' from the Pacific. The current migration policies of New Zealand and Australia is having adverse effects on certain Pacific Island Countries (PICs).

2.3 Reproductive Health Issues

Reproductive health affects the welfare and social structure of our societies by not adequately protecting particularly the women of the Pacific although this is by no means restricted to women only. Recognising the important role played by our women in ensuring the continuity of a healthy Pacific generation, there is a need for Pacific women to have access to better health facilities.

The consequences of the use of banned contraceptives has raised concern throughout the Pacific. Furthermore, the alarming rate of sexual transmitted infections (STIs) among our younger generations in the Pacific Region is a worrying concern for the SPICOL leaders.

2.4 Resolutions

To deal with these problems, the leaders of the SPICOL '99 delegation resolved to implement the following recommendations, statements and policies.

2.4.1 Population Growth/Development

2. 4.1.1 A target was set that by the year 2030, the average population growth of the whole Pacific region will be 2%. This goal will be achieved by implementing the ICPD policies under the 1994 Cairo convention which will be revised every 5 years.

2. An ad hoc task force made up of a representative from each member country with a mandate to carry out a specific study to find out why PICs failed to implement the ICPD policies and to give a feedback of the study findings to the SPICOL Leaders within the next six months for further action. Each member country is directly responsible for the costs of the study carried out within their own respective countries.

2.4.2 Migration External To address the issue of migration policies of New Zealand and Australia that has disadvantaged certain SPICOL member countries, the SPICOL Leaders have endorsed the kind gesture of Papua New Guinea, Palau and Fiji to take the leading role in the negotiations with Australia and New Zealand to discuss possibilities in adopting lenient migration policies. The SPICOL member countries will continue to be informed on progressive reports and take further action when the need arise.

2.4.3 Internal Migration The SPICOL Leaders also agreed to adopt a similar policy to the Melanesia Spearhead Group Migration arrangement. There is a marked increase in rural-urban drift in the recent years. This has resulted in illegal squatting, increase of crime rate, poverty, environmental and diseases. The leaders concern is to change this negative stereotype view of illegal squatters as a problem, but to see them as useful national human assets that has the capability and potential to contribute positively to national development. There is a great concern by the SPICOL member countries that the current unsustainable rate of natural resource exploitation by transnational companies in some PICs does not help in maintaining sustainable harvesting on the already strained resources. Squatting resolution was passed to adopt policies on the decentralisation of industries from urban to rural areas. Whereby in doing this, environmental issues were brought up such as having Environmental laws. As a result, a new Treaty called "The Honiara Environmental Treaty" was voted on with the following principles: (Environmental Impact Assessment) to be carried out by the SPREP (South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme) before and continuously, during the operation of an industry, within the SPICOL member countries. A company found violating environmental laws of a particular SPICOL country, will be black listed throughout the Region and subject to a fine with respect to the individual environmental laws of each country.

2.5 Reproductive Health

2.5.1 The SPICOL Leaders agree that women of the member countries should have access to better health facilities. Each member country has made a commitment to allocate a minimum of 10% of their Annual Government Health budget to women's health facilities. The target of this policy is that by the end of the next 15 years all member countries should have more than 90% of women's population having access to better health facilities. This will be monitored every five years.

2.5.2 The Leaders also agreed that contraceptives that are banned outside the SPICOL Region will also be banned within the SPICOL Region.

2.5.3 Sex Education

The decision of SPICOL member countries on Sex education is that it should be introduced at Primary level. Each country is to decide on the appropriate age, content of the curriculum and the name of the programme that they see best fit.


In conclusion, all the delegates expressed their gratitude for the important opportunities for the Leaders of each Island Country to get together to discuss their shared concerns on issues regarding 'POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT'.

The Leaders also wish to thank the Solomon Islands Government for their warm and kind hospitality.

It was resolved that the 5th SPICOL Conference will be hosted by the Republic of Kiribati.

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