Deepening Australia-Pacific connections

| September 11, 2018

With a stunning view of Sydney Harbour, the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships (ICDP) held a reception at EY on 27th August, celebrating its first anniversary and achievements in implementing the Australian Government’s Pacific Connect program.

Working in consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Global Access Partners and Strategic Development Group, ICDP fosters enduring relationships between emerging and current Pacific leaders for future growth and development of the region.

Delegates celebrated the success of ICDP’s first year and heard from the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Australian Minister for Defence Industry, and Senator Claire Moore, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific.

In his keynote address, Minister Pyne outlined the evolution in international development practices, providing evidence of ICDP’s successes throughout the region through people-to-people engagement.

Noting what can be done on small budgets through passion and collaboration, the Minister congratulated everyone involved on the fantastic work achieved so far in fulfilling the priorities of the government’s White Papers on Foreign Policy and Defence.

Senator Moore spoke passionately about the future of Australia-Pacific relations. In her keynote address, she described the unlimited potential for deeper connections with our Pacific neighbours which is fundamentally underpinned by a desire to learn more about each other’s cultures.

Strong bi-partisan support for ICDP was a refreshing and overwhelming theme coming out of the reception, with all delegates reinforcing the importance of cooperation to develop greater connections throughout the region.

The Chair of ICDP, Dr Ian Watt AC, provided an overview of Pacific Connect and the great strides ICDP has undertaken. Focusing on the program’s theme of ‘Australia-Pacific Connections for the Digital Future’.

Dr Watt noted the success of ICDP’s three dialogues held in its first year, involving 52 emerging leaders from across Australia and the Pacific region. Utilising ‘Second Track’ diplomatic processes, ICDP’s dialogues between Australians and Pacific Islanders have facilitated opportunities for the Pacific to harness the digital economy for its benefit. Currently, eight projects are in the pipeline across the region, with three more dialogues planned for this year.

Guests discussed potential opportunities to mentor Pacific emerging leaders and further engagement between business, academic and civil society leaders on technology challenges in the region.

Networking opportunities were a key focus of the reception, with delegates from across Australia and the Pacific deepening connections and providing support to the Pacific Connect program. Innovative technology utilisation was on the agenda, with blockchain solutions, virtual reality immersive stories and creative industries hubs the topic of conversations.

ICDP would like to thank EY for sponsoring the event and deeply appreciates the partnership they have together. We now look forward to building on the connections generated from the launch to further Pacific Connect activities.

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Benjamin Blackshaw

Benjamin Blackshaw is an editorial and research assistant for the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships. Currently studying a Bachelor of Global Studies and a Diploma in Languages at the University of Technology, Sydney, he hopes to pursue a career in international development.