Vaka Pasifika Fellowship: Empowering Pacific Leaders for Stronger Governance

June 21, 2024

Members of the Vaka Pasifika Fellowship Tuvalu cohort with Fellowship Coaches Cameron Bowles & Megan Streeter and MEL Manager, Maraia Vavaitamana.


Funafuti, Tuvalu - "The interactive nature of the training fostered a collaborative environment where participants could share their experiences and learn from one another," remarked Macdonald Tau, a fellow from the Tuvalu cohort. This sentiment echoed throughout the inaugural Vaka Pasifika Fellowship training held last week in Funafuti, Tuvalu.

The two-day workshop brought together representatives from government, the supreme audit institution, civil society organizations, and the media. Participants engaged in a dynamic exchange, exploring critical issues affecting accountability, and transparency for a more resilient and prosperous future.

The Vaka Pasifika Fellowship, a cornerstone initiative funded by the European Union with €6 million and implemented by the Vaka Pasifika project (2022-2026) of the UNDP Pacific Office, is designed to strengthen governance across the Pacific Islands. The Fellowship identifies and empowers future leaders passionate about driving positive change in accountability throughout the region.

The program tackles governance challenges in Pacific Island Countries by equipping national cohorts with the skills to strengthen systems for managing public resources. Effective resource management is fundamental to achieving strong governance. 

Through a mix of individual coaching, collaborative case studies, and a regional knowledge-sharing network, stakeholders from government, civil society, and other sectors gain the skills needed to address governance issues specific to their countries. Fellows then collaborate to develop action plans focused on aligning these systems with national strategies and the Pacific 2050 strategy. 

Importantly, each country cohort gets to choose a pressing governance issue to tackle, ensuring the project directly addresses their most critical needs. This regionally owned and led initiative prioritizes long-term change and capacity building within Pacific Island Countries.

Building on in-depth research conducted by La Trobe University, the program equips fellows with the tools and expertise to address pressing national and regional challenges. Through interactive sessions, group discussions, and case studies, fellows delve into topics such as public accountability mechanisms, the effective use of data for informed decision-making, and other areas critical to enhancing governance and accountability within the region.

“The Vaka Pasifika Fellowship plays a pivotal role in fostering accountability and transparency. This is achieved by bringing together individuals from various sectors and fostering open dialogue where all viewpoints are considered," said Selai Managreve, the Deputy Auditor General at the Tuvalu Supreme Audit Institution. 

This sentiment underscores the Fellowship's commitment to building a stronger, more transparent Pacific, where empowered leaders can navigate the challenges of today and ensure a brighter future for all.

The Vaka Pasifika Fellowship program is set to take place in at least five other countries over the next few years. With its focus on collaborative leadership and capacity building, the Fellowship offers a promising path towards a more resilient and prosperous Pacific future.

For more information, please contact:

Marine Destrez, Project Manager, Vaka Pasifika Project, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji,


About UNDP’s Vaka Pasifika Project:

The "Accountable Public Finances to serve Pacific people – Vaka Pasifika" project is funded by the European Union and aims to enhance oversight and accountability in public finance across the Pacific region. Through tailored solutions and capacity-building initiatives, the project seeks to empower Pacific Island countries in navigating fiscal challenges and fostering inclusive economic growth.