Pacific Island Cities

The governance of urban water access in the Pacific is increasingly recognised as an area in need of innovative approaches in policymaking in order to cope with immediate and looming challenges, both from within the sector and due to the consequences of climate change. Progress towards achieving universal access to safely managed drinking water services (SDG 6.1) will require innovative water policies, informed by knowledge of practices of culturally significant customs.

Conventional networked water service provision has showed its limits in delivering and sustaining services in the urban villages of the Pacific, especially in the growing informal settlements. To cope with failures of centralised systems, individuals and communities have to resort to traditional resources, such as multiple water sources and practices of water sharing according to customary networks of reciprocity.

Shifting attention away from the implementation of technological transformation, the cluster will explore how water policy initiatives can best support the informal voluntary efforts mobilised in Pacific urban centres to enhance water services.

This cluster will enable a multi-disciplinary conversation on the forms of public support that could enhance existing forms of participatory, informal and decentralised water access in terms of their accessibility, safety and environmental sustainability. These insights have implications for the implementation, monitoring and governance of water services. They also offer new options for intervention in climate change resilience.

Given that the cluster is addressing social conditions underpinning complex water policy concerns, it will explore in priority less conventional mechanisms to support the development of new policy. It is important that efforts are geared towards identifying tools that go beyond top-down legal and political reform processes.