Regional stability & cooperation
Regional stability is essential for growth and poverty reduction. However, new challenges to stability are emerging in the form of transboundary threats like pandemics, disasters, and climate change. Transnational crimes such as people trafficking, drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorism also threaten regional stability. Poverty can create as well as exacerbate these forces. For example, an individual's vulnerability to disease and crime also undermines their ability to participate fully and productively in society. Such forces pose direct threats to development as well as deter investment, diminish legitimate and stable employment prospects and impact on neighbouring countries. Transboundary threats require a transnational response as they can only be managed effectively through regional networks and cooperation. Regional cooperation also provides opportunities to increase economic growth and streamline the costs of government through greater regional integration.
Regional responses to transboundary threats
Pandemics, disasters, global warming, access to water, and transnational crime require not only national but also transnational responses.
These threats to development require effective and close cooperation between countries in the region, including Australia. Institutional and personal networks need to become an important feature of the Asia-Pacific landscape. Those networks will be particularly important in averting or responding to crises.
Promoting regional integration
Australia provide assistance to organisations that promote regional integration and cooperation. Australia's support to the ASEAN Secretariat stretches back over a period of 30 years and will continue to increase with a focus on security and prosperity in the East ASEAN subregion in collaboration with multilateral development banks and key donors.
Likewise, Australia also provides support for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum as well as programs that contribute to greater integration within Asia and between South Asia (the Indian subcontinent) and East Asia.
Promoting regional governance in the Pacific
Governments of small countries are more expensive than larger ones, as the fixed costs of establishing and running services are shared among fewer citizens.
Governments in small countries also find it difficult to implement programs impartially because of the problem of familiarity - everyone knows everyone. Factors such as these require Pacific island states to take a more regional approach in addressing governance and are embodied in the Pacific Plan, endorsed by Pacific Island Forum leaders in October 2005.
Australia supports a range of initiatives identified by Pacific leaders for immediate implementation under the Pacific Plan.
In addition, Australia works closely with Pacific partners on longer term Pacific Plan initiatives to promote greater regional cooperation.
Pacific Plan [external link] website for more information.
Last reviewed: 1 November, 2013