Here is part one of our news highlights for 2016, covering our development support and results achieved in conjunction with our member countries and territories and our other partners (January to June).

JANUARY

We welcomed Dr Audrey Aumua, a seasoned development professional with extensive regional experience, as our new Suva-based Deputy Director-General.

In support of Pacific cultural industries, SPC along with other partners provided trade skills training for performing artists in Fiji and supported a trade mission of Pacific artisans to New York.

New methods for improving the supply of planting material of taro, a culturally significant and important Pacific export crop, were presented at the inaugural World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops in China.

SPC supported Palau and Solomon Islands with the preparation of their respective Universal Periodic Reviews by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Switzerland.

 

FEBRUARY

To reflect our inclusive mandate and broad Pacific region coverage, we reminded the world we had adopted our formal name ‘Pacific Community’ for wider public use while retaining the acronym ‘SPC’.

Almost one year since tropical cyclone Pam left its path of devastation, we announced our contribution to  long-term recovery efforts from the in Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu through practical recovery measures with funding support from development bank KfW, on behalf of the Government of Germany.

We worked with coastal communities in Kiribati to farm sandfish juveniles for release into the wild in order to rehabilitate the once-thriving sea cucumber export industry.

 

MARCH

To better protect the work of creators, producers and the Pacific creative industries sector, SPC along with partners held training on intellectual property rights and protection for cultural producers in Apia, Samoa.

SPC reiterated its commitment to support the Government of Fiji’s recovery efforts following the devastation caused by tropical cyclone Winston. To boost Fiji’s recovery, a total of 43,000 fruit and vegetable seedlings were handed over to its agriculture ministry as part of a joint development initiative between the European Union and SPC.

In order to build its resilience towards the impacts of climate change, Tonga adopted a new national climate change policy that SPC and EU provided technical assistance towards.

A new ‘Farm to Table’ project by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) housed at SPC and partners looked to address the high level of youth unemployment in Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu by aiming to assist more than a thousand youth secure employment through skills building in organic agriculture, income generation, food security and climate change resilience.

 

APRIL

SPC and other partners held a regional media forum to promote a human rights-based approach to news reporting.

A documentary ‘Sisters of the Pacific Ocean – Rising through the Waves’ produced by FemLINKPACIFIC in partnership with SPC featured Pacific women’s views on sustainable development and what they consider important for improved quality of life and sustainable wellbeing.

The Pacific Women in Maritime Association was established to advocate for the empowerment and integration of Pacific women in the region’s maritime sector.

 

MAY

The 12th Festival of Pacific Arts, the biggest celebration of the Pacific region’s diverse cultural heritage, was held in Guam. SPC, as proud custodian of the Festival supported Guam’s Festival Organising Committee including on-ground involvement in biosecurity, public health surveillance and daily broadcast highlights from the festival venue.

Dr ‘Ofa Ketu’u was appointed the new Director of our Statistics for Development Division. She joined SPC from Statistic New Zealand. Outgoing Director Dr Gerald Haberkorn, who retired after 19 years of service, was awarded a timely medal of honour by Vanuatu’s Head of State, President Baldwin Lonsdale for his work and dedication to serve the people of Vanuatu.

Following recommendations by the 11th Pacific Health Ministers meeting in 2015, the Heads of Health meeting in Fiji led to the creation of a new framework to improve the monitoring of progress of the Pacific’s Healthy Islands Vision, an integrated, holistic approach to health protection and promotion in the region developed 20 years ago. The Heads of Health meeting also noted progress being made in the implementation of the Pacific Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Roadmap.

We produced a set of 20 identification cards outlining the description of 30 different species of whales, dolphins and seabirds to assist Pacific Islands Regional Fisheries Observers with identifying species of special interest while onboard commercial tuna fishing vessels.

 

JUNE

On the eve of World Oceans Day, the Pacific Community (SPC) has released a study confirming that wave energy could be a cost-effective energy resource for Pacific Island countries and territories. It identifies most wave energy potential for Pacific Island countries and territories exposed to the southern ocean swells, such as French Polynesia, Tonga, Cook Islands and New Caledonia.

SPC and the Kingdom of Tonga presented the inaugural Pacific Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Summit in Tonga, drawing attention to the crisis in the region. Opened by the King of Tonga, His Majesty King Tupou VI, with keynote addresses by our Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, and United Nations Development Programme Administrator, Helen Clark, the Summit noted that addressing the Pacific NCD crisis would advance other development priorities. Pacific Island countries and territories expressed support for a Pacific funding mechanism to better balance responses to the mammoth burden of NCDs in the region.

A new report published on World Oceans Day noted that climate impacts are set to intensify pressure on food security in the Pacific Islands, a region dependent on fishing and small-scale farming for sustenance. Meanwhile, a new book, Vulnerability of Pacific Agriculture and Forestry to Climate Change, found that adopting “climate-smart” methods would allow breathing space to ensure the region’s agriculture and forestry sectors can continue to meet the immediate needs of growing populations while future planning takes place. SPC’s work on climate change in nine Pacific small island states was showcased at the European Development Days in Brussels.

Representatives of the 26 countries and territories that govern the Pacific Community met in Noumea for the 46th meeting of the Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA46). This was the first time that the CRGA convened mid-year, following an endorsement by members at the previous year’s conference.

Two frameworks to build knowledge of deep sea minerals and their governance, and support informed decision-making by Pacific Island countries were released during CRGA.

The largest ever survey of more than 45,000 students in 13 Pacific Island countries, coordinated by SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme, revealed improved numeracy across the Pacific region.

We signed a partnership agreement with Republic of Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology to share cutting edge marine scientific and technical knowledge for the benefit of the Pacific region.