The head of the United Nations Development Programme is urging all Pacific governments to spend their money more carefully.
The call was part of Helen Clark's keynote address to the Human Face of the Global Economic Crisis conference, which began in Vanuatu on Wednesday.
The former prime minister of New Zealand told delegates poverty across the region has worsened, with the economic crisis making it harder for many countries to achieve millennium development goals.
These include the elimination of poverty, and universal education.
Miss Clark told the gathering in Port Vila that every dollar spent by governments must be carefully prioritised, social protection programmes must be strengthened and women must benefit from any new policies put in place.
Miss Clark said now is the time for more small and medium-sized businesses to be developed and the crisis presents the region with an opportunity to re-orient economies to low-carbon development.