Here is part two of our news highlights – July to December 2015 – during a remarkable year for international development and for the Pacific Community (SPC).
SPC contributed to an Oceans 2015 Initiative scientific paper which compared the risks of impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems and the services they provide under two potential carbon dioxide emission pathways.
In a SciDevNet opinion piece, the Deputy Director of our Social Development Division, Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago-Elisara, argued that Pacific nations needed gender-sensitive climate schemes.
SPC signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Seabed Authority focused on collaboration to regulate deep sea mineral activities in ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction, as well as marine scientific research and analysis, capacity-building initiatives and the sharing of seabed resources information.
SPC released the Pacific Human Rights Law Digest (Volume 5) containing recent human rights case law from across the Pacific for use by legal practitioners, magistrates and judges, policy makers and advocates as precedents and tools for policy initiatives. Additionally, SPC trialled two new public health resources for children, including an update of Pacific Nutrition Bingo.
An era of greater coordination of youth-centred development in the Pacific was ushered in on International Youth Day with the launch of the Pacific Youth Development Framework by SPC and the Pacific Youth Council. SPC’s hosting of a High-level Dialogue on youth at the forthcoming 9th Pacific Community Conference was revealed in video message by our Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga.
Following a request from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation for additional expertise in the wake of typhoon Soudelor, SPC sent a senior epidemiologist to Saipan to assist with public health surveillance.
Samoa’s Ministry of Health began its enhanced public health surveillance for the Commonwealth Youth Games in September, with technical support from SPC.
Our Director-General Dr Tukuitonga delivered a plenary address at the Pacific Islands Development Forum Leaders’ Summit on building climate-resilient, green blue island economies, as dignitaries gathered in Suva to consider the Pacific region’s climate challenge.
Also in Suva, SPC marked the 20th anniversary of its popular TV show, The Pacific Way.
On World Literacy Day, SPC called for more attention on literacy and learning as our Educational Quality and Assessment Programme began distributing papers for the 2015 Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA). The assessment would occur in 13 countries and engage more than 50,000 students in October. The PILNA 2015 results are due to be released in early 2016.
Three agreements were signed in September. A five-year pact with the Government of Tonga will strengthen mutual cooperation on its development priorities. The people of Papua New Guinea stand to benefit from an agreement between their government and SPC designed to address the country’s complex development challenges in a more holistic way.
Timor-Leste’s National Strategic Development Plan states that “Education and training are keys to improving the life opportunities of our people”. With this in mind, an agreement was sealed for the joint implementation in Timor-Leste of the Pacific Technical and Vocational Education and Training (PacTVET) project which is funded by the European Union.
History was made in New York! Having been granted Permanent Observer status to the UN in 2014, the Pacific Community’s inaugural statement at UN headquarters was delivered by Dr Tukuitonga during the UN Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Youth@Work, a programme developed by SPC in Solomon Islands in response to youth unemployment, was awarded a grant of GBP 1 million from The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme. Around 10,000 young people are expected to benefit from training and career opportunities under the four-year grant.
Ahead of COP21, the President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau Jr, repeated his call for urgent action on climate change as his country adopted its Climate Change Policy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Low Emissions Development, developed with assistance from SPC and the European Union.
Samoa launched three new taro varieties, nurtured with technical assistance from SPC’s Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees, to help meet demand for pink taro in New Zealand and other export markets.
“In the Pacific Islands region, we’re raising the most obese generation in our history, with almost 25% of boys and 20% of girls aged between 13 and 15 classified as obese, and sadly this is a pattern we see repeated in other parts of the world,” Dr Tukuitonga said as he headed to Ghana to chair the final African Region Consultation for a the World Health Organisation (WHO) Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.
The endorsement of a five-year navigation chart for the Pacific’s largest regional development organisation was on the agenda as officials from among the 26 country and territory members of the Pacific Community (SPC) and development partners gathered in Alofi, Niue, for our governing body meetings (#Niue2015).
Among the main outcomes of SPC’s Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA 45) and 9th Conference were endorsement of the Pacific Community Strategic Plan 2016-2020. “Our focus will be on results and the impact of our work,” Dr Tukuitonga said in a post-Conference OpEd published by PACNEWS and The Fiji Times. “Our new strategic plan involves a greater emphasis on science, innovation and knowledge, including traditional knowledge, to support sustainable development in our region.”
The Conference featured a High-level Dialogue on “Nurturing a resilient generation and future Pacific leaders”. Recognising the need for a high-level forum to monitor the situation of young Pacific people, the member countries and territories represented in Niue agreed upon 21 recommendations, including making youth a standing agenda item at future SPC governing body meetings.
Niue became the first Pacific Island country to commit to the Strategic Roadmap for Emergency Management. Also making news during #Niue2015 was a new U.S. Government initiative to strengthen the national capacity of up to 12 Pacific Island countries to effectively respond to the adverse impacts of climate change and the launch of a tidal gauge to provide critical weather and sea level information.
Our organisation’s legal name, “Pacific Community” (or “Communaute du Pacifique”), was adopted for public use, dropping the reference to “Secretariat”, with the abbreviation “SPC” (or “CPS”) retained given its widespread usage. A refreshed logo for the Pacific Community and guidelines were introduced.
In Suva, “Bridging Information Gaps by Creating Smarter Maps” was the theme of a conference attended by more than 300 participants to discuss advancements in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing applications and their relevance to the management of resources in small Pacific Island countries and territories.
In memory of a former colleague, Losana McGowan, and other women who had died as a result of domestic violence, SPC staff and other stakeholders observed a minute’s silence and were briefed on our revised domestic violence prevention policy. “Sometimes the workplace is the only place victims feel they can raise what’s going on. But there’ll always be someone to talk to if you know where to go and that’s a message of reassurance we’re sending to all women and girls in New Caledonia,” the head of the Women Against Conjugale Violence, Isane Vallet, said during a panel discussion at SPC headquarters.
Capping off a year of progress on delimiting the maritime boundaries of Pacific “big ocean island states”, SPC and Australian Government partners hosted a technical workshop in Sydney. “The Pacific is really leading the world in this area. Having established their maritime entitlements, many [Pacific] country teams are now developing the tools to manage their marine spaces effectively,” the Chair of Marine Science at the University of Sydney, Professor Elaine Baker, said.
Despite immense odds, the Paris Agreement on climate change was reached at COP21. In a Huffington Post blog, Dr Tukuitonga said the result was an agreement that signified hope for our region’s future. “We did not get everything we asked for but through the effective collaboration between the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific and delegations, the Pacific has been visible, articulate and unwavering in its commitment,” he said. See also video.
Media contact: Jean-Noel Royer, Communication officer, firstname.lastname@example.org