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Cook Islands

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Australia’s partnership with Cook Islands

How we are helping

On 1 January 2020, Cook Islands graduated from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) List of Official Development Assistance (ODA) Recipients.

Prior to the pandemic, the strong performance of Cook Islands' tourism industry resulted in a relatively high GDP per capita in comparison to many Pacific island countries and the OECD's decision to classify Cook Islands as a high income-country.

Australia allocated $2 million per year from 2020-21 to 2023-24 in non-ODA funds to support Cook Islands after its graduation from the OECD’s List of ODA recipients on 1 January 2020. This funding is supporting Cook Islands' regional engagement and provides for their continued participation in Australian-led and ODA-funded Pacific regional initiatives. It will not be reported as ODA.

Cook Islands' post-graduation priorities include developing marine resources within their large exclusive economic zone, and further developing its tourism, education, seabed mining and renewable energy sectors. Australian post-graduation funding to Cook Islands is supporting investments in economic growth and governance; regional security, including environmental security; fisheries; pollution management; Cook Islands' COVID-19 response; and gender equality.

ODA achieved program activities

2019-20 total Australian ODA estimated outcome

$3.7 million

2019-20 bilateral budget estimate outcome

$1.9 million

Prior to 1 January 2020, Australia worked with New Zealand through a delegated cooperation arrangement to support Cook Islands' long-term prosperity. Australia supported development activities to:

  • improve water and sanitation (SDG 6) by upgrading septic tanks to a reticulated sanitation system and providing technical assistance to strengthen the regulatory environment
  • improve quality of education (SDG 4) through budget support and
  • improve women's economic participation (SDG 5) and eliminate violence against women.
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