Gerard Finin: Tuvalu is Flat: The Global Ebbs and Flows of a Pacific Atoll Nation

A runway on a very small flat island

The runway in Tuvalu. photo / provided

Gerard Finin's (M.R.P. '86, Ph.D. CRP '91) three decades of work in the profession of planning have focused on the Asia-Pacific region, with special emphasis on Oceania and the Philippines. As director of the East-West Center's Pacific Islands Development Program in Honolulu, he worked directly with Pacific island governments on issues of economic development (e.g., tourism, trade), climate change, and sustainability. His research and consulting have been supported by the Asian Development Bank, Ford Foundation, and U.S. Department of State.

Through the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, Finin has organized Track 1.5 Dialogues with Australia and New Zealand, as well as four U.S. presidential summits, convened most recently in 2016.

Finin's teaching experience at the University of Hawaii–Manoa includes appointments with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the School of Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Studies. He has also conducted courses at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies. Finin received his B.A. in political science and urban economics from the University at Albany. He earned his M.R.P. and Ph.D. from AAP's Department of City and Regional Planning.


The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is frequently cited as one of the places in Oceania that is highly vulnerable to the influences of climate change, and the inundation that sea level rise may bring to the 11,000 Tuvaluans residing on nine coral atolls. Yet, what is less widely appreciated is how Tuvalu, through far-sighted planning measures, has become one of the most economically and socially stable small island states in Polynesia. As Tuvalu celebrates its 40th year of sovereign nationhood on October 1, its achievements are little short of extraordinary.

Close overlay