New Caledonia Boulouparis region and the Banana Shire are international twins and share a surprising amount of similarities, including the imminent arrival of a flurry of renewable investment.
International twinning, often referred to as sister city programs, is a powerful tool for nurturing global connections and cooperation. These arrangements offer a long list of significant benefits, encompassing economic opportunities, cultural exchange, and a multitude of initiatives aimed at creating a more harmonious and understanding world.
The Banana Shire and the French Boulouparis Commune — the French equivalent of a Shire — in New Caledonia have been in a sister city arrangement since March 1998, and throughout this time, they have observed numerous parallels.
The sister-city relationship was the brainchild of former Banana Shire Councillor Tom Hosking who fostered the relationship during the early years and ensured its success by coordinating the initial delegations and visits.
Mayor Nev Ferrier said the relationship gives Banana Shire residents a chance to understand and accept the differences in culture between both countries together with the possibility to leverage trade opportunities as they arise.
“Building bridges is always good. It‘s an opportunity to learn, connect and work together.”
The early stages of trade agreements, particularly based around grain and seed, helped cement the relationship, while subsequent delegations led to Boulouparis primary producers replicating the red claw crayfish production models that were successful in Banana Shire.
Both regions share many commonalities, including well-established mining, agriculture, and cattle industries. Furthermore, both regions are currently confronting challenges related to the implementation of renewable energy projects. The Banana Shire has more than 20 renewable projects in the pipeline, while Boulouparis is set to host a 16MW solar PV power project, alongside France’s first major energy storage facility, which is notable for being the largest in all of France’s domain, in terms of capacity.
The relationship between Boulouparis and Banana Shire also allows both Local Government authorities to gain an understanding of each other’s challenges and concepts on how to handle situations that are similar to both authorities. In May 2023, the Banana Shire Council hosted a delegation from Boulouparis held at Council offices, in Biloela. Mr. Rachid Ollivier, an elected official from Boulouparis Townhall, along with his wife were welcomed by Cr Judy Pender and Banana Shire Council CEO Tom Upton. The visit aimed to enhance the relationship between the two regions.