USP participates at UNOC Sharp End Partnership Side Event
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Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP speaking at the engagement for the UN Sharp End Partnership Side Event.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) will support efforts to document stories of people living at the sharp end of environmental damage, degradation and risk.
This was the comment made by Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, at a UN Oceans Conference Side Event, Our oceans, our future: partnering for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14”, at Conference Room A, UN Headquarters, New York on 6 June, 2017.
The ocean he explained, is an integral part of life for Pacific people both today and in the past. “Traditional societies traversed wide areas of the Pacific and have innate linkages with the ocean,” he stated.
“Pacific leaders have already talked about how the oceans are our culture and livelihood – stories of success and resilience in times of extraordinary difficulties and also how we learn from traditional knowledge,” he remarked.
Professor Chandra referred to the Ocean Declaration of Maupiti signed by Pacific countries in 2009 which states that “The Ocean is a holistic reality of the life cycles of the earth. The Ocean is their identity, way of living, values, knowledge and practices that have sustained them for millennia”.
“There is much to share because while we talk about the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), they also have considerable wisdom, experience and success that can enrich the rest of the world.
“There are stories in which SIDS have managed their education, how the Pacific has lived with considerable wisdom with oceans over a long period and there are lessons about how the Pacific has come together for collective action,” he said.
“We also have success stories in how to work very closely with affected communities in empowering them to manage their own resources,” he noted.
He further mentioned it is vital for the Pacific region to capture these stories in this time of unprecedented change.
On the importance of partnerships, Professor Chandra pointed out that the UN Sharp End partnership was started before this first UN SDG Conference was agreed.
Building out of the SAMOA Pathway, he noted that credit should be due to the insight for the development of a partnership, which is a collective of researchers and practitioners who share a common aim to promote wider global learning from the experience of SIDS living at the sharp end of environmental uncertainty.
USP he stated, has been a partner to the UNSIDS Sharp End Partnership since 2014 and is appreciative of the engagement with the other partner organisations.
The partnership he noted, has offered real opportunities to share good practices, lessons learned in higher education and to engage in collaborative research between academics, researchers, policy makers, practitioners, international agencies and other stakeholders.
According to Professor Chandra, USP is also hopeful that there will be further interaction with other regions under the Sharp End Partnerships in the Caribbean and AIMS - Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and South China Sea, stating there is much to learn from other regions in living with uncertainty in ocean-dominated island societies.
Professor Chandra also welcomed the Commonwealth Education Ministers Conference which will take place in February 2018 in Fiji hosted by the Ministry of Education of the Government of Fiji.
“Within USP, the Faculty of Arts, Law & Education is in communication with the Ministry of Education in regards to the kinds of technical support and personnel USP may provide for the event. I hope that holding this Commonwealth Conference in Fiji will help to bring the UN Sharp End partnership into focus for all concerned,” he noted.
In conclusion, Professor Chandra reiterated the importance of building capacity in-country and in the region, with the networking of international organisations.
“Until there is more ownership, more capacity and some cutting edge high-end capacity, then we cannot really look to realise the dream that the oceans represent,” he emphasised.
The Side Event highlighted the work of Sharp End partners and others in supporting research, training and education to develop capacities for sustainable marine livelihoods in SIDS’ coastal communities in the context of the blue economy.
Particular emphasis was given to the role of educational and training institutions in supporting capacity building for SDG14, across the range of disciplines and issues in the blue economy, as well as to the potential for inter-institutional collaboration on a south-south and south-north-south basis.
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