Launch of the Pacific Regional Innovation Network & Building the Pacific Future We Want
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The University of the South Pacific (USP) launched the Pacific Regional Innovation Network (PRIN) together with UN75 Building The Pacific Future We Want, at Japan-Pacific ICT Centre, USP on 24 February, 2020.
PRIN is expected to foster a culture of creativity across the region by localising innovation at the country level and strengthening collaboration amongst stakeholders. UN75 is an initiative to commemorate the United Nations’ 75th anniversary in which UNDP and USP would be holding online dialogues and campaigns with Pacific stakeholders on how we can build a better Pacific future despite the many challenges we face.
Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research & International Office welcomed the Chief Guests, Mr Levan Bouadze, the UNDP Resident Representative & Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor & President (VCP) of USP and invited guests.
He said that the presence of everyone has made this occasion much more valuable and meaningful for shaping Pacific futures, empowering lives, and building regional resilience.
Professor Armstrong said that USP has come together with UNDP to support one another towards accomplishing a common goal of strengthening innovation and creativity in the Pacific.
“The Pacific Regional Innovation Network (PRIN) has come about as a result of USP formalisation of innovation in its current Strategic Plan. It aims to create a culture of creativity across the region by synergising national strengths in order to maximise support on innovation for our people,” he said.
He emphasised that USP is fortunate to implement UN75 with UNDP, an initiative to commemorate the United Nations’ 75th anniversary in which UNDP and USP will hold online dialogues and actions in the Pacific to get people’s views on how we can build a Pacific future we want.
USP expressed its sincere gratitude to the UNDP for their strong support and active participation have made the Pacific Regional Innovation Network a reality.
He said that the launch is the beginning of an opportunity for USP and UNDP’s stakeholders, families, and friends to innovatively and respectfully grow this network in the warm spirit of the Pacific Way.
“Through this, we can get to understand more about the best of the Pacific in relation to innovation and creativity,” added Professor Armstrong.
Professor Ahluwalia said that this launch presents an opportunity for USP to refocus on prioritising innovation in the Pacific, a focus that will enable us to think and link innovation to why we do it and who we do it for.
“This way it will allow us to understand and nurture innovative thinking, services, and outputs in more sustainable and inclusive engagements for Pacific people. We all have a role to play in taking back to the Pacific community in terms of innovation. “
He said that USP has reviewed its strategic priority to be based on Shaping Pacific Futures, emphasising the importance of creating local initiatives and solutions to Pacific regional needs through advanced research aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“Innovation is an important cross-cutting theme that has been identified to guide the transition of research into sustainable outcomes not only to accomplish the University’s core functions but also to empower Pacific innovation,” said Professor Ahluwalia.
He added that the launch reinforces UNDP and USP shared goals of accelerating the achievement of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in the Pacific.
He extended his sincere gratitude to UNDP for its contribution to support Innovation at USP and the region.
Mr Bouadze said that Innovation for development is about identifying more effective solutions that add value for the people (especially the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society – Women and Girls, Youth, the Elderly, Persons with disabilities, LGBTQI community, isolated communities) who are affected by development challenges.
He emphasised that UNDP recognises the increasingly complex world where development challenges are continuously emerging and changing and this calls for the urgent need to move away from business as usual and respond with agile and flexible solutions.
Mr Bouadze said that in the Pacific, Innovation has its own unique qualities and characteristics.
I understand that through a consultative research initiative led by the USP, it can be implied that Innovation in the Pacific context can be framed as:
– “making tangible improvements to livelihoods”
– “drawing on indigenous/cultural knowledge”
– “an act of delivering meaningful”
– “a social, communal and cultural practices”
He said that Innovation and Innovative ideas will play a very important part in achieving the “Pacific Future We Want” and UNDP is delighted to support the Pacific Regional Innovation Network (PRIN), with the overall goal to provide effective support on innovation for the people of the Pacific and to synergize the strengthens of all partners and stakeholders in this space.
“The initial stage of PRIN project started in January 2019 with the establishment of the first Innovation Hub in the Laucala campus and it has been successful in engaging a wide range of stakeholders,” said Mr Bouadze.
He said that under this LOA, he is excited to see the extension of the Innovation lab to 3 of USP’s regional campuses in the Republic of Marshall Islands, Kingdom of Tonga and Vanuatu – all of which have existing significant projects that will be supported by the innovation hub initiative.
He thanked the youths that participated and pitched their proposals in the Youth Co:Lab event and also appreciated them for the great ideas and efforts.
“We are counting on you to bring fresh perspectives and insights into important development issues that have yet to be solved. For a safe and sustainable future, it is very obvious that we need to unlock the potential of our youth as leaders and as innovators, especially in social entrepreneurship,” said Mr Bouadze.
He thanked USP, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism for the tremendous efforts in promoting the innovation for development agenda and empowering the youth as innovators and social entrepreneurs.
“We look forward to collaborating further in supporting our young entrepreneurs in advancing a more sustainable future,” he said.