Norway’s Ambassador to Fiji, His Excellency, Paul Gulleik Larson held a public lecture with The University of South Pacific’s (USP) staff and students at the Japan ICT Centre on Thursday 21 July 2022.
His Excellency Ambassador Larsen, his wife and the Norway delegation present were warmly welcomed by USP Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Regional Campuses and Global Engagement) Dr Giulio Masasso Tu’ikolongahau Pāunga.
Dr Pāunga highlighted the public lecture would be focusing on oceans, climate and energy, international security, and sustainable development from the Norwegian foreign policy perspective.
He also touched on how USP and the University of Bergen (UiB) from Norway had partnered for the Norway Pacific Ocean Climate scholarship programme to recruit 25 fully funded PhD programmes and scholarships from USP member countries as well as Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. This will be funded from 2021-2025 by Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.
“This Public seminar is a part of the ongoing One Ocean Expedition which is another collaborative partnership between UiB and USP, to dialogue and learn about oceans, climate change, and sustainable development.” Dr Pāunga said.
Ambassador Larson acknowledged Dr Pāunga as well as the staff and Research Office team including the collaborative stipend programme.
He said, “In spite of the problems caused by the pandemic, I am very proud that we have, with the help and collaboration of UiB been able to now get the stipend programme up and ready to run for 25 students from all over the Pacific region to study oceans in all these aspects as well as climate which is also the focus of the lecture”.
The Ambassador of Norway highlighted that globally more than three billion people depended on the oceans for their livelihoods. Norway’s role and engagement, including co-chairing the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy and the Blue Justice Initiative, are aimed at building a Blue Economy in which effective protection, sustainable production, and equitable prosperity go hand in hand.
“As a member of the UN Security Council, Norway also works to ensure that the link between climate change and security is recognised and addressed in climate-related security risks,” he added.
Ambassador Larsen also touched on several of his experiences since arriving in Fiji in 2018 and will also be leaving the region next month after serving in Fiji and the Pacific for the last four years.
USP Director Research, Professor Sushil Kumar thanked Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) for the Norway-Pacific Ocean-Climate Scholarship Programme (N-POC) between UiB and USP”. Director Research also thanked the N-POC Secretariat, Dr. Mele and Florence for the organization of the public seminar”.