The Pacific region is currently facing an array of economic, security and environmental challenges, particularly with the depletion of natural resources and the stress on livelihoods that come with climate change.

States in the region have therefore, recognised that visas and mobility offer critical pathways that can help the region to not only cope but also thrive in this environment.

Already, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), through the ACP-EU Migration Action, is working to build national capacities in the field of visas, migration and mobility.

The Action, launched in June 2014, provides tailored technical support on migration to Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and regional organisations. To date it has received 74 technical assistance requests from 67 ACP governments and seven regional organisations.

‘’Labour migration from and within the Pacific region is an important avenue for addressing livelihood challenges induced by climate change, but its facilitation relies on well-administered and dignified visa policies and practices’’, said Caroline Logan, Head of IOM’s office in Vanuatu.

She spoke ahead of a three-day regional meeting which kicked off on Wednesday, April 3, to tackle these themes in Port Vila, Vanuatu.  Adding, she said, ‘’here is where governments, international organizations and civil society in the Pacific can play vital roles.’’

IOM in the framework of her ACP-EU Migration Action programme is holding the ‘’regional thematic meeting’ to discuss visas, regulated mobility and ways to strengthen national migration management policies in the Pacific region.

IOM’s Logan explained that visas and related legislation and policies are vital to ensuring that facilitated, regulated mobility is beneficial to countries and migrants alike.

According to her, ‘’comprehensive visa legislation and policies can have a substantial impact on the competitiveness of a country and are closely linked to increased business, tourism and trade.’’

These elements are also important to humane border management and security according to Donato Colucci, IOM Senior Immigration and Border Management Specialist for Asia and the Pacific.

‘’It may seem counterintuitive, but visas and regulated mobility are essential to effective, integrated border management and can also contribute to national security response. Smart visa policy improves the effectiveness of operations at our borders in several ways’’, explained Colucci.

‘’Notably, regulated entry makes border crossings smoother, safer and more orderly for everyone involved. For example, effective data and identity management allow for timely analysis to prevent and, if necessary, respond in time to security threats’’, he continued. ‘’Additionally, improving visa and border management by strengthening the capacities of border control authorities helps to identify human trafficking situations and protect victims.’’

The meeting is bringing together 40 participants from Pacific countries, the European Union, representatives of international and regional organisations and NGOs, as well as experts in the field of visas and mobility.

The programme is financed by the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and supported by the ACP Secretariat and the EU.

The ACP-EU Regional Thematic Meetings provide a platform for peer-to-peer discussions and exchange of good practices to generate thematic recommendations tailored to the region.