Pacific Step-Up: Exploring Geopolitical Accountability for Aid in Solomon Islands

Publication Name

Social and Environmental Accountability Journal


Pacific Island Countries (PICs) commonly rely on intergovernmental Official Development Aid (ODA) to assist with social and environmental challenges. Therefore, how national governments are accountable for these commitments is an important issue for donors and recipients. This study investigates the donor side of this relationship by exploring Australia’s ODA relationship with Solomon Islands through its recent Pacific Step-up programme. Given the geographic closeness and history between Australia and Solomon Islands, we adopt critical geopolitics as a framework to inform the analysis. We find that the two common metaphors, family and step-up, are evidence of Australia’s accountability relationship with Solomon Islands; while the concept of tug-of-war explains the background and rising geopolitical anxiety between two regional powers, Australia and China. This study extends our understanding of aid accountability within a novel intergovernmental environment and offers an alternative explanation rooted in a politics of power.

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