The GEM Division was officially created in late 2017 after the merge of SPC’s Geoscience and Economic Development Divisions. This brought together the work across SPC in renewable energy, maritime safety & transport, disaster risk reduction, hazard and risk understanding, water and sanitation, oceans management and understanding of our land and mineral resources for sustainable use into the future.
GEM originally began as the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) in 1972 and was later named the Pacific Island Applied Geoscience Commission after its membership expanded into the North Pacific and to neigbouring Pacific Territories. SOPAC became part of the Pacific Community (SPC) in 2011 after Pacific Leaders decided to ensure its long-term sustainability by bringing it into the region’s largest development agency.
The commission was created almost 50 years ago to support the need in accessing, understanding, developing and implementing cutting edge scientific and technical solutions. Initially in the late 1960’s there had been interest in offshore mineral potential, particularly in Fiji and Tonga. This piqued the interest of international scientists including geologists and researchers to help in understanding one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.
This initial focus expanded into an integrated and dynamic regional agency supporting better understanding of the region’s natural resources, hazard and risk understanding, in-depth scientific approaches for our ocean and protection of water resources for the region.