NGOs in New Zealand say the failure to embrace civil society is the reason development often fails in the Pacific.
This was a view raised at a public forum in Wellington on the Pacific Plan on greater cooperation in the region.
Speaking on behalf of civil society organisations, Dr Peter Swain of Volunteer Service Abroad, says the participation of civil society is neglected in favour of state led and market driven approaches to development.
He told the forum the views of Pacific communities have been left out of the development discourse.
"Development planning must engage the community to be successful. Participation in all phases of development creates a cohesive society. Lack of attention to community concerns has led to development failure."
Mr Swain says the NGOs want to see the draft of the Plan distributed more widely and translated into Pacific languages to reach people at village level.