USP joins in celebrating sports contribution to Pacific’s development
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Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor & President speaking at the breakfast side event in conjunction with the 49th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in Nauru.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) participated in a breakfast side event at the Menen Hotel on 6 September 2018, in conjunction with the 49th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in Nauru that was held from 4-6 September 2018.
Hosted by the Government of Nauru, in partnership with the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC), the special side event “A Stronger Pacific. Powered by Sport” was earmarked to celebrate the contribution of sport and physical activity to sustainable development in the Pacific.
His Excellency Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of the Republic of Nauru said the event was intended to “celebrate the power of sport to connect and unite and to inspire our island nations to become a stronger Blue Pacific continent”.
He commented that sports builds stronger societies as it is for everyone regardless of gender, age or ability and it reaches the marginalised and unites our people with patriotic passion.
He said sports breaks down the barriers of language, culture, distance or race as a valuable tool for peace in the region.
“Sports empowers our people, provides a means for many athletes to make a living, to provide for their families and to give back to their villages and communities. Sports is a cross-cutting tool for social and economic development directly impacting our most valuable assets – our people,” he added.
Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP echoed the statements delivered by H.E. Waqa on the value that sport brings to the sustainable development agenda in Pacific Island Countries and Territories.
USP he said, recognises that it must continue to be a dynamic institution responsive to regional and global developments, and with this in mind, it is delighted to respond to a growing demand in the Pacific region to strengthen sport development and its contribution to sustainable development.
Front L-R: Mr Dennis Miller, Executive Director of the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC); H.E Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of the Republic of Nauru; and Tuala Matthew Vaea, CEO of Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (SASNOC). Behind them is Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP VC&P and Mrs Lusiani Biukoto-Rokoura, Sports Research Group, USP.
“USP therefore fully supported and contributed towards the research project on “Maximising the Contribution of Sport to Economic and Social Development in Pacific Island Countries: The case of Fiji and Samoa,” he stated.
The research is supported by co-contributions from the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Fiji; the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture in Samoa; and ONOC.
Professor Chandra congratulated the research group on delivering the preliminary report to the Forum Economic Ministers in Palau in April, and on presenting the final research report in conjunction with the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in Nauru to inform regional policy dialogue.
He stated that in June this year, USP hosted the inaugural ‘Shaping Up: Pacific Research Symposium on Sport and Sustainable Development’ in partnership with ONOC and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).
He noted that the research report on the case studies of Fiji and Samoa identified significant challenges across the health and sport workforces and makes a series of recommendations to strengthen the capacity of Pacific Islanders to collect and analyse data, and to conduct academic research across sport, physical activity and physical education to support sound policy development and implementation.
To strengthen the research capacity in this space at USP, two international experts Professor Wladimir Andreff, Emeritus Professor from the University of Paris and Dr Emma Sherry, Associate Professor from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia have been appointed Adjunct Professors at USP.
As part of USP and ONOC’s commitment and demonstrated partnership to sports development, Professor Chandra and Mr Dennis Miller, Executive Director of ONOC announced the joint Pacific Regional Sports Research Scholarships at USP.
“The new postgraduate master’s scholarships are designed to strengthen the evidence base on the contribution of sport to sustainable development, and inform policy development and regional investments in and through sports in Pacific Island Countries and Territories,” Professor Chandra said.
He added that three (3) Pacific Regional Sports Research Scholarships will be advertised immediately and offered in the 2019 academic year to post-graduate students from the 12 USP Member Countries to conduct research in sports economics, social impact or physical education.
Mrs Lusiani Biukoto-Rokoura, who was part of the Sports Research Group, and a staff member at USP stated this research is framed by the Pacific Roadmap for a Sustainable Development, a set of priority SDGs identified by PIC and territories.
“There is no doubt that sport is making a significant contribution to GDP in Fiji and Samoa based on evidence presented, this contribution is likely to be much higher if all possible data sources are taken into account,” she noted.
Mr Tuala Matthew Vaea, CEO of Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (SASNOC) shared the experience of where sport and its engagement in strategic spaces like civil society, the European Union and Forum Secretariat is and where it is headed.
The occasion was a unique one that brought together representatives from Governments, Regional Organisations, Development Partners, Civil Society and the Private Sector to recognise and celebrate the power of sport to drive social and economic development in Pacific Island Countries and Territories.
USP is committed to working closely and cooperatively with national, regional and international partners to progress the teaching and research agenda to help build a stronger Pacific – powered by sport.
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