The French Ambassador to Fiji, H.E. Mr Gilles Montagnier (left) and the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra (right) at the exchange of agreements ceremony.
The French Government and the University of the South Pacific recently exchanged agreements of two newly signed projects worth around F$59,000.
The projects, which were selected under the French Pacific Fund Programme, aimed at addressing two very important issues in the region - Climate Change and Pacific Heritage.
The agreements were exchanged between the French Ambassador to Fiji, His Excellency Mr Gilles Montagnier and the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra at the USP Laucala Campus in Suva on 27 July, 2012.
The first project is titled, ‘Processing and Monitoring of Climate-Change data for Coral Reefs of the Fiji Islands’ and the second one is ‘Connecting Moana: the Common Heritage of Pacific Islanders,’ which focuses on the development of a joint curriculum for undergraduate studies in history of the Pacific.
During the exchange ceremony, Professor Chandra highlighted that the two projects, “will provide USP with the opportunity to build on its capacity to deliver climate change research by having available climate change data on coral reefs and to also allow USP to be a leader and a centre of excellence in the region for Pacific studies.
Professor Chandra emphasized the need to have current climate change data for research purposes as this would assist in developing policies for vulnerable communities in the region.
He further stressed the need to safeguard, enhance and promote Pacific heritage as it portrays Pacific uniqueness.
The Vice-Chancellor assured the French Ambassador that USP is committed to implementing these two projects in a timely manner.
“We also welcome any future opportunity to work closely with the French government through its embassy in Fiji on projects or programmes that will benefit the region and link us closely to France and her territories in the region,” he added.
In his remarks, H. E. Mr Montagnier shared that USP occupies a very unique place in the South Pacific, being the state-of-the-art research and educational institution of the region.
“The exchange of agreements is a testimony of our commitment to back this institution,” the French Ambassador said.
He added that, “by handing over the two grant agreements to USP, the French Government is proud to be able to contribute to the development of the South Pacific, the research capacities of USP and ultimately, the development of the skills of the youth from the South Pacific.”
The Ambassador explained that the first project which looks at strengthening the monitoring of climate change effects on coral reefs in Fiji will provide a better understanding of this issue which affects the lives of people in the Pacific.
H. E. Mr Montagnier further elaborated that the other project will allow the coordination of the work of many universities such as USP, the French universities of New Caledonia and of French Polynesia, as well as universities from the North-Pacific and Australia, in order to focus on the history of the Pacific common to both the French territories and the English countries.
“By doing so, it will then contribute to a better understanding between these territories of common history and culture and so strengthen their regional integration,” he stated.
The first project will be implemented by the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment and the second one will be carried out by the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education.