Pacific Quality Infrastructure (PQI) initiative makes strides in cross-regional trade and climate change mitigation.
The first regional standards body for Pacific Islands countries, the Pacific Islands Standards Committee (PISC), has been established with the support of Standards Australia and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).
PISC was established through the PQI Initiative, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which aims to strengthen quality infrastructure across 18 Forum Island Countries including Fiji, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Samoa. Its ultimate goal is to foster economic development, enhance public safety and improve the overall quality of life in the Pacific region.
Initial meetings of the PISC, hosted by Standards Australia and the Pacific Islands Forum, focused on working with Pacific partners to increase their voice in standards development, facilitate cross-regional trade and build regional stability by addressing pressing issues such as climate change and standards for vital sectors like food and the built environment.
The work of PISC under the PQI Initiative has garnered international recognition from other regional and international standards bodies such as the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and bilateral partners in the Pacific.
The initiative is already making great strides in establishing regional quality infrastructure in the Pacific to support economic development.
The PISC plans to continue work on its first standards projects with a view to regional adoption and has also formalised its governance processes and developed a comprehensive standards roadmap to support future activity.
Additionally, the PISC is also developing a Regional Standardisation Strategy which will articulate standards priorities for the region and provide further direction to future work.
This strategy is being developed in collaboration with Pacific Islands’ stakeholders in the government and private sectors to reflect shared regional priorities.
By establishing a regional mechanism for standards development and adoption, the initiative aims to enhance trade competitiveness, increase regional economic and climate resilience, and promote safety and environmental standards.
Adam Stingemore, General Manager, Engagement and Communications, Standards Australia, echoes the importance of Standards Australia taking the lead in standards development in the region.
He says: “Standards are a fundamental part of improving safety and quality both at the regional and national level. Through regional collaboration on standards, we can further unlock the economic potential of Pacific Islands countries and reinforce their resilience in the face of emerging challenges.
“The partnership between Standards Australia and the PIFS is a testament to a shared vision of Pacific regional collaboration, and a prosperous future for Pacific Islands countries. “
Standards Week in Nouméa, New Caledonia, was held between 29 May – 2 June 2023, and hosted annual meetings of PISC and the PASC.
PISC annual meeting brings together Pacific Islands nations to strengthen regional capacity and address climate change.
Some of the key outcomes of the week-long meeting included:
- Empowering the Pacific by building regional capacity: The newly established PISC represents a mechanism through which Pacific Countries can participate in standardisation. In a region challenged by restricted human resources and geographic isolation, PISC is providing important regional quality infrastructure and a forum to address shared economic challenges and opportunities. During the week, the PISC launched its first technical standards committees in construction and food, an important first step for developing and adopting regional standards in key sectors.
- Addressing climate change impacts: Climate change adaptation and mitigation remained a consistent theme for the week. Roundtable and panel discussions focused on the role standards could play in addressing climate change impacts and the importance of incorporating the voices of those most impacted in the standards development process. Pacific Islands nations are amongst the most vulnerable to climate change and have historically been under-represented in standards development.
- Promoting regional economic development: Quality infrastructure is a key priority of the Pacific Aid-for-Trade Strategy 2020-2025 to promote trade and economic recovery from COVID-19. Standards play a key role in this by supporting Pacific Islands nations access to international markets and to increase their overall competitiveness. The PISC is seeking to map standards in the region and identify those that are relevant for regional adoption to harmonise standards and promote trade.