Dialogue and Disentanglement: Navigating Tensions for Sustainable Community Economic Development within Vanuatu

By Peter Westoby.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The past two years have been declared the years of the ‘custom (kastom) economy’ within Vanuatu, by both the Vanuatu National Council of Chiefs and the National Cultural Centre. Such a declaration is indicative of many ni-Vanuatu citizens concerns to do with the [un]sustainable directions of current macro-economic conditions and strategies of the Vanuatu state.

Such conditions and strategies have resulted in a potential ‘social disaster’ due to issues such as land alienation from the indigenous people, the undermining of food security as land is utilised for export-oriented trade, tourism and speculative land leasing, and a reliance on external investment.

The ‘years of the kastom economy’ reflect both a reaction to and resistance against this kind of orthodox and yet unstustainble direction.

This paper considers the complexities of sustainable community economic strategies unpacking two key tensions between the: individual vs collective and cash vs custom.

The paper emerges from reflections on four years of working in Vanuatu and specific consultations conducted during 2009.

Keywords: Pacific Island Economies, Customary Life, Community Development Practice/Theory, Community Economic Development

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.81-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 731.275KB).

Dr. Peter Westoby

Lecturer in Community Development and Research Associate, School of Social Work & Human Services and Australian Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Peter Westoby is a Lecturer in Community Development within the School of Social Work and Human Services, University of Queensland, Australia, while also working as a research consultant with the Australian Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies. He has worked in development practice within South Africa, PNG, the Philippines, and Australia. Some of this recent work is focused on peaceful development practice within Vanuatu, social cohesion and community conflict practice within Australia and the application of community development within school settings. He lectures in community development theory/practice, methodology, frame-working and community-based training. His most recent publications include two books: Dialogical Community Development: with depth, solidarity and hospitality (Tafina Press, 2009), and The Sociality of Healing: In Dialogue with Resettling Sudanese Refugees within Australia (Common Ground, 2009).


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