A brain drain is affecting Pacific Islands' ability to manage vulnerable freshwater supplies.
A study by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community has examined how well Pacific Island countries are managing their water as well as the stresses water supplies are under.
An environmental engineer with the SPC, David Duncan, says the water management sector is feeling the shortage of experts acutely.
He says it is a big problem in a region with a range of complex environments including low-lying atolls with poor groundwater resources and large volcanic islands with intense rainfall and runoff.
"Invariably we're having to bring the expertise in at the higher level from overseas which means that every time you want to make a decision on things you need to bring someone in which means also it's very difficult for the decision-makers in the country to actually get the right information for them to make the decisions to manage the resources."
The SPC's regional environmental engineer David Duncan