‘Each quarterly issue of Pacific Progress will highlight different areas of our work and the impact we’re having in the region and in the lives of Pacific Island people.’

I am pleased to introduce the inaugural issue of Pacific Progress – Stories from the Pacific Community.
As we celebrate 70 years of our contribution to regional development, it’s an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come over the past seven decades in providing scientific and technical support to our Pacific Island members, and the directions we are taking in responding to the evolving development context in this region.

The Pacific Community (SPC) has been at the forefront of knowledge and innovation leadership on a range of crosscutting issues, such as food security and livelihoods, climate change, disaster risk management, public health, data for policy, and youth, gender and human rights. We are proud of what we have achieved in these areas.

In the early 1980s SPC fisheries experts were instrumental in the design and deployment of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) around the region. These artisanal FADs have helped coastal communities improve fish catches, and therefore to maintain food security, support livelihoods and reduce pressure on coastal marine resources. SPC remains the regional repository of knowledge of FADs in the Pacific.

Through research, training, technical support, and conservation and distribution of the region’s valuable genetic resources, our Centre for Pacific  Crops and Trees (CePaCT) supports resilient and sustainable agricultural systems that help reduce poverty, increase food security and protect the environment. CePaCT houses some of the most important staple crops in the Pacific, including the largest taro collection in the world. The Centre is also a critical resource in times of disaster; following Cyclone Winston in Fiji and Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, CePaCT distributed seedlings that were instrumental in getting communities back on their feet.

SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) is responsible for enhancing the quality of education and for the assessment of education standards in the Pacific. In 2015 EQAP completed the largest Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA) in the region, covering 45,000 students in 700 schools in 13 countries. The results showed notable improvement in numeracy achievement across the region. A resounding 74 per cent of Year 4 students were at or above the expected profi ciency level in 2012, and this further increased to 86 per cent in 2015.

These are just some examples of the work we do in the region. We also believe it’s important to represent Pacific voices on the world stage. The recent UN Oceans Conference held in New York in June, was an opportunity for SPC, along with other Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) agencies, to highlight sustainable management of coastal fisheries resources, oceanic fisheries programmes for tuna stock assessment, maritime boundaries support, governance and management of deep sea minerals, sea level monitoring, marine and coastal science surveys, which are all aligned with SDG 14 – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

In the Pacific, we live and eat from the ocean every day. Our cultures, livelihoods and economies are intrinsically linked to the ocean that connects us and sustains our island communities; threats to our oceans are threats to our existence.

I would like to thank the Chair of the Tenth Conference of the Pacific Community, the Hon Philippe Germain from New Caledonia, for writing the foreword for this inaugural newsletter. The relationship between New Caledonia and SPC has a long and important history and we look forward to continuing to work together in the many years to come.

Each quarterly issue of Pacific Progress will highlight different areas of our work and the impact we’re having in the region and in the lives of Pacific Island people.

SPC will continue on a path of technological innovation and thought leadership, working across the region to improve the wellbeing of Pacific people, guided by a deep understanding of the diverse contexts and cultures of our islands.

It is with great pride that I launch this first issue of Pacific Progress. We look forward to sharing our stories with you.

Dr Colin Tukuitonga
Pacific Community Director-General