Dr Kristi Knudson, Dr Krishna Kotra, Dr Einar Bjorgo and Dr Anthony Burn.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Emalus Campus in Vanuatu is working on the Commonsensing Project funded by the UK Space Agency International Partnership Programme.
Led by an international consortium of organisations working with the Government of Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands, the project aims to improve access to climate information and geospatial analysis skills.
A team comprising Dr Einar Bjorgo, CommonSensing Project Lead; Dr Anthony Burn, Radiant Earth Foundation Sustainability Lead; and Dr Kristi Knudson, Radiant Earth Foundation Programme Manager visited Emalus Campus on 11 February, 2019.
Dr Bjorgo, who is the Executive Director of UNITAR, Satellite Analysis and Applied Research is also the UNOSAT Manager.
Mr Ruben Markward, Campus Director commended the group for involving USP Emalus in consultations since 2018 and stressed that it would be crucial for students to access any database that will be developed as a result of this project.
He noted that a lot of research and documentation was done on climate change with national stakeholders but students and the public will need to be allowed access to such data.
He further requested the project team to also closely liaise with Laucala-based staff to see how best students may be introduced to the project, particularly access to expected outputs.
Dr Krishna Kotra, Science Programme Coordinator who invited the team for collaborative discussions, was pleased with the progress since talks last year.
He thanked the team for their consideration to make USP a part of this prestigious multi-disciplinary research study.
Dr Krishna further explained that with the new “Vanuatu In-country Science Programme” (VISP), the Campus is offering full programmes at Bachelors level in selected streams, which would surely make a difference in offering practical knowledge.
“This is another platform with existing opportunities for students to interact and learn from world renowned researchers which might lead to some life changing experiences,” he added.
Dr Bjorgo said they were pleased to involve USP in the project, especially from a training and capacity development perspective.
“Students represent the future and we want to contribute to them having the skillsets needed for improved resilience to climate change,” he said.
Dr Burn stated he was looking forward to working with USP, UNOSAT, and the University of Portsmouth, to identify, build, and incorporate a dedicated mini-curricula into the sustainability programme with CommonSensing.
“With USP, Government ministries, and partners within the CommonSensing consortium working together, it is possible to create a pathway for young and local talent, to be the champion of this project, and the mission it serves, now and into the future,” he said.
The CommonSensing project considers students important for the future of geospatial technology in Vanuatu and will continue collaborating with USP to develop capacity building and sustainability plans that incorporate students to build pathways towards careers.
Mr Markward and Dr Kotra attended the project launch at the Le lagoon Resort, Port Vila on 12 February 2019 which was organised by the Ministry of Climate Change.
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