Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of USP Council, Mr Albon Ishoda, Charge D’Affaires at the RMI Embassy, Honourable Inia Seruiratu, Fiji Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management and Meteorological Services and Professor Derrick Armstrong, USP Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and International (in garland) with participants of the Forum and Expo.
The Fijian Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management and Meteorological Services, Honourable Inia Seruiratu, officially opened the Pacific Islands Transport Forum and Expo, held at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus from 8 – 10 November 2018.
Hosted by the Governments of Fiji and Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), together with USP, the Pacific Island Transport Forum and Expo seeks to prioritise transport decarbonisation as key to climate change adaptation and mitigation; showcase the latest science and technology available; set clear pathways for national action plans under a coordinated regional transition programme; and bring together stakeholders and actors from the village to the global, from governments, industry, civil society and academies.
Hon. Seruiratu said that the Forum and Expo provides an opportunity to hear from some of the global leaders on what is happening in other parts of the world and what might work in the Pacific region.
Hon. Seruiratu added that the Forum and Expo provides a platform to showcase some of the zero and low carbon technologies available in the transport sector that may be appropriate to the Pacific islands.
He acknowledged USP, COP23 Secretariat, and RMI, along with funding partners and private sector for organising the event, adding that, such an initiative is welcomed by the Fijian Government.
“As part of our commitment to tackling climate change, we see this as an important opportunity for us to Talanoa here in the Pacific, and focus on the key sector that has yet to be looked at – transport,” Hon. Seruiratu said.
Hon. Seruiratu, who is also Fiji’s High Level Climate Champion, is looking forward to engage with University students who are currently researching on potential solutions to the future transport challenges in the Pacific.
He urged participants of the Forum to support the young researchers, adding that in order to build our capacity, it is important to invest in the younger generation to explore opportunities through research and development that will benefit the region.
Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of USP Council, said that the Forum and Expo is an opportunity to come together and share a vision for the future of the transport sector, to discuss the challenges and opportunities, and to work together to determine how best to decarbonise the transport sector for the benefit of all the societies and communities.
Mr Thompson stated that there are lessons learnt from the shift to renewable energy for electricity generation and it is critical that people now take advantage of these lessons in applying what worked and what did not work so well for the transport sector.
“This Forum and Expo is one of our 50th Anniversary year events, and we hope that all of us can take this opportunity to talk openly and honestly about the challenges ahead.”
“We must share our ideas and plans on how best we can work collaboratively as a region and continue to demonstrate to the world that we can tackle climate change and ensure a better future for coming generations,” Mr Thompson said.
Expressing the University’s delight in co-hosting the Forum and Expo with governments of its member countries of Fiji and RMI, Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and International informed that USP held the first Sustainable Sea Transport Talanoa in 2012, which highlighted the urgent need for research in low carbon shipping solutions for the Pacific Island communities and economies.
Responding to this challenge, he noted that the University established the Sustainable Sea Transport Research Programme in 2013 under its research clusters initiative.
“That multi-disciplinary team has since provided a regular stream of publications and presentation on its research to audiences worldwide, as well as providing technical and scientific support to Pacific Islands’ governments,” Professor Armstrong said.
He added that last year, the University opened the Micronesian Centre for Sustainable Transport (MCST) at its Long Island Campus in Majuro, RMI, which was a joint initiative with the RMI Government, as a catalyst to drive transition to low carbon transport in the region, starting with domestic shipping.
Professor Armstrong also informed that USP has introduced new courses in sustainable sea transport, shipping and ports as part of its Undergraduate programme through the School of Marine Studies, and now has a pool of Postgraduate researchers from multiple disciplines focused on low carbon transport solutions.
Furthermore, he announced the Public-Private Partnership will be formally launched with the China Navigation Company on 10 November 2018.
“This project has been in development for several years, and we are delighted that the University, through its MCST, will be collaborating with the China Navigation Company to research, build and trial a low carbon freighter as demonstration of a more appropriate and affordable maritime transport solution servicing inter-regional routes,” Professor Armstrong said.
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