Sustainable development that reduces poverty and inequalities in the Pacific is realistic and achievable, but a continuing challenge is ensuring that development strategies are inclusive of those most in need. Oxfam New Zealand initiated this research to deepen our understanding of the contribution that New Zealand businesses currently make to sustainable development in the Pacific. A literature search confirmed there is little relevant research on the extent of New Zealand business activity in the Pacific and even less on the contribution that New Zealand businesses make to sustainable development in the Pacific. Research that does exist suggests that positive impacts of foreign investment are limited, at least partly because companies rely heavily on imported goods, services and expertise rather than domestic supply chains. Local employment is confined to low-skill jobs, often in basic production and service provision, and this has limited spill-over effects. The benefits for sustainable development are also limited in the sectors attracting the highest value of investment, notably in mining and other extractive sectors, where there have been problems of unsustainability, poor governance and low value added. In an earlier report, Learning from Experience, Oxfam New Zealand utilised an inclusive definition of sustainable development to explore the crucial inter-relationships between economic equity, social inclusion, respect for culture and environmental sustainability to analyse successful Pacific exporters’ experiences, strategies and key success factors. The research highlighted the vibrancy of agriculturallybased enterprises in the Pacific and the links between exports and sustainable development outcomes that are broad-based and inclusive. Importantly, the research highlighted that different forms of economic activity have different impacts on Pacific communities and that business activity by itself does not necessarily provide benefits to those who are in need. This research builds on that base to explore opportunities, challenges and potential for the New Zealand private sector to contribute to sustainable development in Pacific Island countries. This research focuses primarily on foreign investment and joint ventures by New Zealand businesses in the Pacific.

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