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A Bolt from the blue: the demise of Vanuatu’s Ministry of Youth Development (A) 2016-4.1

7 March 2016



Vanuatu made international headlines for topping the 2006 New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index, twenty-six years since it gained independence from British and French rule. The archipelago had enjoyed economic growth even in a nation of ‘subsistence affluence’ where many ni-Vanuatu (Vanuatu citizens) enjoyed resources outside the market economy. Despite this apparent cause for celebration, not all ni-Vanuatu agreed that the future was bright. In fact, development proved patchy and economic growth needed to be far greater if it was to meet Vanuatu’s significant population growth. A major policy area emerged in youth development, where 70% of the growing population was under 30. In 2003, the Ministry of Youth Development was established and, despite its small staff, built a network of youth councils to inform policy making that could eventually benefit the entire nation. In 2012, the Ministry released an ambitious ten-year plan that challenged the government to “explore and redefine its investment and priorities in young people”. With a strong network and a plan in place, it therefore came as a shock to senior planning officer Paul Nalau when he learned that a newly elected government had not allocated a new minister, but had instead dissolved the Ministry with immediate effect, its functions to be absorbed into the Ministry of Education.

This two-part case discusses the strategic policy-making and the lifecycle of a government ministry, from its established, to its disestablishment, to its reestablishment. Part A provides background information to explain the value of the Ministry of Youth Development in Vanuatu, before describing its functions for building and then implementing a policy agenda.

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  • Part B follows the Ministry’s reinstatement and can be used to discussed measures to broaden the scope of policy agencies, particularly at risk of political interference. It could also be used to discuss collaborative, network policy-making more broadly.
Authors: Margot Schwass
Published Date: 7 March 2016
Content Length: 5
Product Type: Part A, Primary resources