Holistic approach needed: PM

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama . Picture: JOVESA NAISUA/FILE

RURAL regions must also be considered as part of a more holistic approach to national development, says Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

While speaking on the second day of the fifth Pacific Urban Forum in Nadi yesterday, he said rural areas were also vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

“As we’re seeing through the regularisation of our informal settlements in Fiji, ownership, dignity and community engagement are among the most effective tools we wield in building climate resilience, in urban and rural areas alike,” he said.

“I mention rural areas as well, because rural regions must be considered as part of a more holistic approach to national development.

“It is almost never any family’s first option to pack up their entire lives and make the costly and risky move from their rural home to an urban area.”

He said in Fiji, services enjoyed by urban centres had also been extended to rural areas.

“That is why we’re bringing the security and conveniences of city life directly to our rural areas, extending services, high quality infrastructure and opportunity to these communities that allow their residents to lead safe and fulfilling lives where they already live, and where they’d generally prefer to remain.”

He added the pressures of rural to urban drift reflected the need to adapt cities and towns.

“Our populations will continue to grow, and our urban areas are projected to grow even faster, consuming greater swaths of rural areas as part of our towns and cities. We need to cater for that development by considering all development under national master plans that not only address our urgent challenges today but that consider long-term trends within our economies.

“Fiji recently hosted a legend in the world of urban planning, Dr Liu Thai Ker, the man known as the architect of modern Singapore.

Dr Liu was in Fiji to work with us to marry lessons from Singapore’s renowned development experience with the realities on the ground in Fiji.”

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