Pacific Islands and the Internet

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"The internet is the fastest growing industry in the world, and with changes taking place every day, the Pacific cannot afford to be left behind." This sentiment, expressed in Pacific Islands Monthly, embodies the hope of many island nations.

Access to the internet presents a number of possibilities. Fast, cheap communication is now widely available to smaller island states. The hope is that this technology will facilitate greater commerce for the islands which had previously been hampered by their isolation and the small, fragmented nature of their markets.

Island economies worldwide share many of the same concerns. SIDSnet (Small Islands Developing States Network), a United Nations working group, has recently become involved in the development of Pacific Island economies. Previously, SIDSnet had been working with Atlantic, Caribbean, and African island states, before expanding to encompass a total of 42 island nations, including the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga, the Cook Islands, and others.

SIDSnet is focused on themes of common concern to island states. With information on trade, tourism, climate change, biodiversity, sustainable development and energy, SIDSnet serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas.

Another important function of SIDSnet is to provide technical assistance to those using the internet as a development tool. Besides stressing the sharing of information and greater email access, SIDSnet provides training in the use of information technologies to island states. The stated goal of the SIDSnet program in the Pacific is: "involve stakeholders in the implementation of SIDSnet in their region and the management of this website; empower by ensuring that activities receive maximum exposure on the Internet [and] enlist support to ensure sustainability and relevance of the website."

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

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