The Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP) conducts a broad range of activities to enhance the quality of life in the Pacific islands. In 1980, under the visionary leadership of Fiji Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi, a special East-West Center program was formed to specifically address the unique issues island nations face as they emerge from decades of colonization. The founding mission of PIDP is to assist Pacific Islands’ leaders to advance their collective efforts to achieve and sustain equitable social and economic development.
PIDP was formed at the specific request of the region’s island leaders. Since 1980 PIDP has served as a forum through which Pacific leaders discuss critical issues of development with interested countries, donors, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. On four occasions Heads of Governments, under the auspices of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders (PICL), have met with Presidents of the United States at the East-West Center.
From the very beginning, the East-West Center has maintained special interest and expertise in the Pacific Islands. Many of the earliest students who received their education through East-West Center fellowships were from the region, especially the then-Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Shortly after its founding, the world-renowned Polynesian Voyaging Society was supported by a special Center program.
PIDP is the only East-West Center program whose activities have a defined geographic focus informed by both the area studies and disciplinary expertise of its staff and participants. PIDP activities draw heavily upon the expertise in other areas of the East-West Center such as the Pacific Regional Integrated Science and Assessments (Pacific RISA) Program, the Professional Development Program, and the Education Program.