state of well-being public forum productive


The State of Well-being Public Forum concluded on Wednesday, 23 November at the Chiefs’ Nakamal in Port Vila following three days of vibrant and hard hitting discussions.

The forum was a key side event supporting the theme for the 52nd meeting of the Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA) and the 12th Conference of the Pacific Community (SPC) of which Vanuatu is currently the Chair. The theme—Blue Pacific, Prosperity and Well-being—was chosen by Vanuatu to showcase the country’s unique role as the only Pacific Island Country incorporating metrics of well-being in official statistics.

The public forum aimed at engaging civil society in productive dialogue that may prove influential to the newly established government on ways in which we can achieve greater well-being outcomes in the future.

Civil society representative organizations, representing Chiefs, women, youth, people with disabilities, and the private sector, came together each day to discuss what is working in support of people’s well-being, what is emerging that may hinder people’s well-being, and recommendations for addressing existing or emerging issues raised that can be communicated to the government.

The first day, Monday 21 November, was devoted to discussions on the State of Social Well-being, focused on issues of health, education, governance, justice, culture, gender, discrimination, and several other topics compiled under the Society pillar of the People’s Plan. Tuesday 22 November brought a change of topic, with civil society discussing the State of Environmental Well-being and focusing on the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss on well-being and several other topics under the Environment pillar of the People’s Plan. The final day of the forum, Wednesday 23 November, focused discussion around the State of Economic Well-being in Vanuatu. This brought out topics of price inflation, employment, economic opportunity, and more topics under the Economic pillar of the People’s Plan.

Each session of the forum saw 30-50 participants take part in discussion for an overall participation of between 250 and 300 individuals over the course of the three days. The event was also livestreamed in three locations, including on Facebook, where it reached a good number of people unable to attend in person. Over the course of the three-day event, civil society organizations managed to point to 73 tangible actions or programs that have proven beneficial to advancing well-being in Vanuatu.

These are all things that the People and Government of Vanuatu can be proud of, and work to maintain.

The forum also uncovered 55 legitimate threats or impediments to the social, environmental, and economic well-being of people in Vanuatu today. These impediments range from governmental failures to failures of the family or community. The civil society representative organizations offered 60 recommendations to address these threats in a proactive show of partnership. Civil society must work hand in hand with the government in order to right some wrongs in society.

On Thursday, 24 November, the President of Malvatumauri, Chief Willie Gray Plasua, presented the outcomes of the State of Well-being Public Forum including all relevant recommendations to the Chair of the SPC and, same time, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade in Vanuatu, MP Jotham Napat. The Minister, in his speech to the 27 delegations present for the Conference of the Pacific Community in the Chiefs’ Nakamal, stated that, “These recommendations, aligned with the People’s Plan, will be taken up for consideration by our government in the coming months. This represents a way towards governing on what matters most to the people.”

The objectives of the State of Well-being Public Forum—to engage civil society on topics related to the regional meeting theme hosted by Vanuatu with proactive recommendations and positive lasting dialogue—were successfully met. It is hoped that Vanuatu hosting and chairing these influential regional gatherings will help encourage those in our Pacific vicinity to make moves towards transforming into well-being economies much like Vanuatu has, with the development and use of well-being indicators that reflect Melanesian values and ensure a self-determined future.