Australian Volunteers International

Aerial view of Suva. Credit: Kylie Willow

April 4, 2024

Blue Pacific Pro Bono Collaborative secures support from the UK Government’s Integrated Security Fund

The Blue Pacific Pro Bono Collaborative will be able to scale up its pro bono work, providing free legal support to Pacific-led sustainable development projects that address climate change as well as stability and resilience in the Pacific with funding from the UK Government.

This is made possible with new grant funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office through the Integrated Security Fund (ISF). The ISF uses a whole-of-government approach to find creative solutions to promote international peace, security and stability.

The climate crisis is an existential threat to the Pacific, and the region’s defining issue. Law, in its many forms, is an essential element of climate solutions and contributes to the region’s resilience and stability. The Blue Pacific Pro Bono Collaborative is a collaboration between four of Australia’s leading law firms: Ashurst, DLA Piper, Norton Rose Fulbright and Clayton Utz, and Australian Volunteers International (AVI). They have combined their collective experience and expertise to provide pro bono legal support to Pacific partners working at the forefront of the climate crisis.

During a pilot over May-October 2023, nine Australian lawyers worked with Fiji Law Society and eight Fijian lawyers to provide pro bono support to the Pacific Community (SPC), an international development organisation owned and governed by 27 Blue Pacific country and territory members. Lawyers provided over 1,360 hours of pro bono legal support to critical climate and energy transition projects under SPC’s mandate through hybrid assignments including a two week in-country component.

In addition to providing pro bono legal services, the Collaborative also aims to support and celebrate a pro bono culture across the Pacific, in recognition of the strong commitment of many Pacific lawyers to enhancing access to justice through pro bono work.

The Collaborative will now move into its next phase, working with Blue Pacific partners to identify areas of unmet legal need. Projects being explored include those focused on climate resilience and the energy transition, and legal clinics to improve access to justice for communities affected by climate change in Fiji. Discussions have also been had with local partners in Samoa in relation to training needs of the local profession, legal profession regulation and research support in emerging legal areas in the climate space.

Learn more about the Blue Pacific Pro Bono Collaborative