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The western Pacific region contains 22 independent island countries and territories spread over an area of 27.8 million km2. Pacific peoples have lived here for as long as 50,000 yr, developing isolated cultures with close relationships to the environment. Although food security is adequate, the region suffers from persistent poverty that places many in a precarious position. Beginning in the 1920s, geological surveys conducted pioneering studies geared toward development. Beginning in the mid-1990s, many aid donors shifted their focus away from science, leading to a depletion of geo-science capacity. Lately, regional organizations have made considerable headway in expanding scientific capacity. The Geoscience Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community plays a significant role in helping the region attract geoscience-related aid funding and stitching the dispersed geoscience communities together. Universities in the region, assisted by geoscientists abroad and private employers, are also playing a role.

This paper describes three examples of how geoscience can contribute to inclusive sustainable development. One example explores deep-sea minerals as a new source of wealth generation and the challenges the region faces in developing capacity and addressing the environmental concerns of this new revenue stream. A second project in Kiribati has moved aggregate extraction from beaches only 3 m above sea level to sediment-rich lagoons, providing new options for the future. Lastly, the promises and benefits of sustainable geothermal and ocean thermal technology are described.

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