Studying effects of private sector on Pacific communities


The private sector’s role in community development in the Pacific will be the focus of a three-year project led by New Zealand Massey University. <!--more-->

<a href=""><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-4186" title="Range River gold mine, Pilbara Western Australia." src="" alt="" width="300" height="200" /></a>


Development Studies researchers Regina Scheyvens and Glenn Banks won $890,000 from the Marsden Fund to undertake fieldwork at two mining sites in Papua New Guinea and two Fiji tourism sites.

“The Pacific is a fascinating place for us to examine the role of the private sector, especially large corporates, in bringing about community development,” Professor Scheyvens said in a media release.

The study will investigate if community development initiatives of mining and tourism corporations can bring about ‘locally meaningful’ development. A team of researchers will get the perspectives of the corporation and rural communities in which they operate – and will eventually develop strategies for more socially sustainable corporate development practices.

“Our project looks critically at the role of the private sector in doing community development, but we are also interested in contributing to their understanding of how they can do a good job when they do this community development work,” Professor Scheyvens says.

The mining and tourism industries share key attributes as both intensively use natural resources, especially land and water, important to local communities, and are economically dominant sectors – making their role in the Pacific complex. “The image of these mining companies is that they go up there and make a huge mess, and trash cultures, but it’s a lot more complicated,” Dr Banks says.

Both industries contribute significantly to local development in the Pacific – sometimes providing far more than governments, donors or non-governmental organisations. For example, they develop infrastructure such as roads, provide educational scholarships and fund health clinics.