Journalists from across the Pacific boosted their knowledge and skills together to harness the immense power of the media to drive transparent and accountable governance through impactful reporting on the use of public finances.

The four-day Regional Media Engagement Workshop concluded on a resounding note, forging stronger collaborations among the economic journalists in the Pacific. The workshop, held from 15 – 18 August, was organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, through the Vaka Pasifika Project funded by the European Union (EU), in collaboration with the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).

The Vaka Pasifika Project addresses the limited media coverage on Public Finance Management in the Pacific region, aiming to encourage journalists to shed light on economic issues, particularly the impact of national budgets on the life of every citizen and matters of public relevance such as health, education and climate change.

During the workshop, media professionals highlighted the importance of having press freedom legislation in place to report openly and transparently on governance and political matters, which is the essence of the democracies. They recognized that independent media and accessible information is still a challenge in some pacific countries. In this context, innovative approaches to reporting, emphasising the importance of human-interest stories, is crucial to creating public awareness and holding institutions accountable.

Professional and experienced journalists participating in the workshop from various Pacific Island countries, expressed their appreciation for the transformative initiative. Taking the step forward, they pointed out that bringing government representatives, the media and civil society together to an open dialogue would greatly be effective to enhance transparency and accountability for good governance.

Photo: UNDP

Dr Erja ASKOLA, Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, commended the journalists for their vital role in shaping public discourse and promoting transparent governance. She stated, “he European Union is proud to support the Vaka Pasifika Project, and we are truly impressed by the dedication of Pacific media professionals. Your reporting holds the power to inspire positive change and foster inclusive economies across the region. We look forward to the ripple effect of your work, leading to greater accountability and sustainable development in the Pacific.”

Munkhtuya (Tuya) Alktangerel, the Resident Representative of the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, expressed her appreciation for the journalists’ dedication and commitment to making positive change in the Pacific. She said, “The media has the unique power to influence people and society, amplifying the message and goals of the Vaka Pasifika project, and raising awareness of the citizens on the importance of transparent and accountable public finance management. The power of your storytelling, success stories and best practices can inspire other countries and regions, fostering the global advancement in transparent public finance management practices.”

As the workshop concludes, a network of economic journalists has been established to play a vital role in shaping public discourse, holding institutions accountable, and fostering a sustainable and resilient future for the Pacific. The ‘Accountable Public Finances to serve Pacific people – Vaka Pasifika’ project funded by the EU, aims to strengthen the governance mechanisms enabling Pacific countries to deliver calibrated public services to meet specific needs of the people.