Pacific Voices for a Global Ocean Challenge Conference at USP
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Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service and Communications delivers his address.
The Embassy of France and The University of the South Pacific (USP) with the support of the Fijian Government organised a two-day Pacific Voices for a Global Ocean Challenge conference from 8-9 June 2017 at the Japan-Pacific ICT Multipurpose Theatre, Laucala Campus, Suva.
The Pacific Voices for a Global Ocean Challenge Conference aims to raise awareness of the best practices in the sustainable development of oceans and is an external side event to the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York.
Conference participants are government officials; civil society organisations; ocean experts form the region; and partners of regional and international organisations.
Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service and Communications said that today oceans face risks greater than any other time recorded in history.
“For decades, the trash, the plastics have accumulated. Many marine species have been driven close to extinction and the effects of climate change have made vast regions of our oceans unrecognisable and uninhabitable,” Honourable Sayed-Khaiyum said.
While this is a crisis that affects everyone on earth, Honourable Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted that it is the people of the Pacific who face the greatest risks.
“That is because, we as Fijians and Pacific Islanders share deep affinity for the ocean and with the ocean, so much of how we see ourselves, how we live our lives, how we sustain our societies is based in the health of our oceans and the sustainability of our marine resources,” Honourable Sayed-Khaiyum said.
The Acting Prime Minister emphasised that our future is tied to the health of our seas so any threat to our oceans and marine life is a direct threat to our own well-being.
In abroad Fiji is looked to by the world as the champion of the preservation of our ocean and seas but, Honourable Sayed-Khaiyum said, “here at home we must be just as ambitious and diligent in protecting our ocean waters and the species that inhabit them.”
Professor Derrick Armstrong, USP Acting Vice-Chancellor and President said that it was a proud moment for the University to host the Pacific Voices for a Global Ocean Challenge conference with the Embassy of France and the Fijian Government, both of which are demonstrating that leadership in the face of scepticism, denial and self-interest.
“Our conference in Suva is getting together policymakers, activists, professionals and scientists, which is a collaboration critical to success and to change,” Professor Armstrong said.
Professor Armstrong informed the participants that USP is strongly represented at the Ocean Conference in New York led by Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President and supported by Dr Jeremy Hills, Director of USP’s Institute of Marine Resources, Professor Elisabeth Holland, Director of the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) and staff of the School of Marine Studies.
Participants of the Pacific Voices for a Global Ocean Challenge conference after the opening session.
The University is also represented by the artists of the Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices choir.
He told the participants that Professor Chandra will be jointly announcing with the leader of the Norwegian delegation a joint Norway-USP research chair whose role will be to provide research leadership and capacity building in Oceans research, linking and building upon the collaboration of Oceans research at USP and the University of Bergen.
Professor Chandra will also be formally announcing the University’s voluntary commitments during tonight’s Norwegian reception in New York.
H.E. Mr Michel Djokovic, Ambassador of France in Republic of Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu said that everyone needs to be responsible and act in order to save and protect the oceans.
H.E Djokovic said that France, anxious to preserve the marine biodiversity and the well-being of the communities that are dependent on it has long pursued an ambitious policy through the promotion of marine-protected areas.
He further stated that there is a strong legitimacy and at the same time greater responsibility for the implementation of the 2030 agenda on Ocean and marine coastal areas resources.
“This is why France, through its Embassy and the support of the French Environment Global Facility has organised this Suva conference. The conference in New York and Suva remind us to stay alert and firmly committed in the implementation of the Paris Agreement,” H.E Djokovic said.
The organisation of the sessions allows extensive discussions between the audience and the speakers in order to create a dynamic and interactive exchange.
Session 1 of the Conference will present how scientific discoveries and field based experience can contribute to new governance and the implementation of sustainable policies in the Region.
Session 2 will present success stories of sustainable marine resources management projects in the Pacific. These inspiring examples are bases for policies focused on sustainable management and environment protection.
Session 3 will present the latest scientific discoveries. Its aim is to emphasise the absolute role of the Oceans as a climate regulator but also as a victim of the climate change. Tara Expedition scientific team will present their first results of the Pacific Expedition and interact with the public.
Some of the side events of the Pacific Voices for a Global Ocean Challenge conference include photographic and art exhibition, poetry recitations, documentaries and school’s visits on Tara Expeditions Foundation’s research schooner.
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