Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia speaking at the launch of Norway-Pacific Ocean-Climate Scholarship Programme (N-POC), a virtual event hosted by Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On 28 April 2020, the Norway-Pacific Ocean-Climate Scholarship Programme (N-POC) was launched in a virtual event hosted by Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
N-POC is an ambitious and interdisciplinary partnership in research and PhD training between long-term partners, the University of Bergen (UiB) in Norway, and The University of the South Pacific
During the official launch representatives from Norway and the Pacific Islands made statements, including Fiji’s Prime Minister Hon Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and Norway’s Minister for International Development Hon Dag-Inge Ulstein.
Remarks during the launch were also made virtually by Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia from USP and Rector Dag Rune Olsen from UiB, who both underlined the long-term partnership between these two ocean and climate science oriented universities.
Hon Bainimarama said that the new partnership, from the halls of USP and UiB, will cultivate the next generation of Pacific Island oceans leaders, bringing together the experiences of our people with world-leading oceans and climate expertise.
He emphasised that our ocean ecosystems buckle under the strain of climate change and reckless human abuses and that there is a for need young minds at the forefront of preserving oceanic food security, understanding how land activities impact coastal sustenance, leveraging traditional knowledge to secure sustainable livelihoods.
“We need ideas, borne in Pacific minds and backed by science that can transform humanity’s relationship with the ocean and marine life. Thanks to the commitment of Norway, Fiji and our fellow Pacific Island Countries –– more young people across the Pacific can contribute to the cutting-edge science behind the oceans-climate nexus,» said Hon Bainimarama.
Hon Ulstein said while launching the programme that the N-POC that addressing climate change and ensuring sustainable use of the ocean still remain a priority for Norway.
He said that in fact, the current pandemic and recent cyclones underline the need for genuine and long-term partnerships.
Hon Ulstein was delighted that the cooperation over decades between USP and UiB is now taken to a whole new level.
“Today we are launching a substantial package to reinforce the partnership on science and education,” Ulstein told the guests in the virtual launch.
“We are climate focused ocean states, with a common understanding of the importance of the ocean-climate nexus. To save our ocean, we need to base policy on the best available science. Someone must develop this science. That is a job for our excellent universities, in the Pacific and in Norway,” he said.
He expressed his excitement with the new programme, not the least the strong critical engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and UiB’s leading role on SDG14, Life below water, through the university’s Ocean Sustainability Bergen virtual centre.
“Together we produce tomorrow’s scientific leaders within climate and ocean. We go beyond words and promises – this is partnership in action,” said Ulstein.
Professor Ahluwalia said that he is proud that we stand together in this partnership in a field of research where we both have so much to offer and so much at stake in terms of the impacts of climate change on our countries and the changes that are taking place to the ocean environment in the different oceanic regions in which we live.
He emphasised that the University of Bergen has for many years been our academic partner in this broader people to people partnership between nations.
“In recent times, we took that partnership to a new level with our Agreement to create a jointly funded professorial position in “Oceans and Climate Change,” said Professor Ahluwalia.
He made explicit reference to UiB Professor Edvard Hviding, who has been a driving force in the Norway-Pacific collaboration. First, doing his anthropological field work in the Pacific, then leading the EU supported ECOPAS project and currently the scientific director for both SDG Bergen Science Advice and the Mare Nullius project, supported by the Research Council of Norway and like N-POC an interdisciplinary collaboration between UiB and USP.
Mr Olsen said that the two universities have developed a fine history of collaboration in both ocean and climate research and education across a number of disciplines.
“I am proud and glad for our equal, long-standing partnership with USP, which today enters a new dimension. Our universities share the conviction that the ocean is central to understanding the urgent challenges posed by climate change,” he said.
There was also a strong focus on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the virtual launch event, in particular SDG13 on Climate Action and SDG14 on Life Below Water as well as SDG17, Partnerships for the Goals, underlining the commitment made by the two universities. N-POC builds on the long-term collaboration between USP and UiB, including the Norway-Pacific Joint Chair of Oceans and Climate Change – a voluntary commitment made at the 2017 United Nations Ocean Conference.
The three main objectives of the N-POC programme are:
1. To build a strong interdisciplinary Pacific cohort of PhD researchers to address urgent challenges for ocean and climate;
2. To build new multidisciplinary Pacific research on the ocean-climate nexus for regional and global policy impact;
3. To build enduring partnerships between researchers and universities in Norway and the Pacific Islands.
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