Pacific Islands Development Program and USP Sign MOU to Strengthen Collaboration


HONOLULU (June 13, 2024) – The Pacific Islands Development Program at the East-West Center and the University of the South Pacific have signed a memorandum of understanding to solidify their shared commitments to leveraging resources and expertise in service to their Pacific Islands stakeholders. The agreement strengthens collaboration between the two member agencies of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific, or CROP.

East-West Center (EWC) President Suzanne Puanani Vares-Lum and the Pacific Islands Development Program, or PIDP, were honored to welcome University of the South Pacific (USP) Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Chief Operating Officer Mr. Walter Fraser, and Development Cooperation Coordinator Mr. Aneet Kumar to EWC for the signing of the memorandum.

As two of nine CROP agencies mandated by Pacific Islands Leaders to strengthen Pacific regionalism, provide high-level policy advice, and collectively respond to priorities identified by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, the agreement between USP and PIDP indicates a strong commitment to improving cooperation, coordination, and collaboration between Pacific regional organizations.

Their shared vision for mutual collaboration builds upon the people-to-people and institutional ties that link USP and PIDP. Based in the East-West Center and located on the campus of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, PIDP is strategically positioned to advance education, research, and leadership development in collaboration with USP.

Specific areas of cooperation include joint research activities, participation in seminars and meetings, exchange of academic materials and information, and the development of short-term leadership and other capacity building programs.

“Mutual collaboration in the areas of joint research, academic exchange, and leadership development programs allows both of our institutions to reduce duplication of efforts, and instead, work together to deliver on Leaders’ commitments to regionalism and supporting Pacific Islands countries and territories. I am very excited about the potential impact this can have on our youth, our professionals, and our capabilities in charting an enduring course through the waters that lie ahead toward a prosperous future for the Pacific region,” said Dr. Mary Therese Perez Hattori, director of PIDP.

By sowing seeds of regional cooperation, CROP agencies such as USP and PIDP help ensure that the Pacific region continues to reap a harvest of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity for all Pacific peoples with the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent as a guiding star through the next several decades.

“The East-West Center is excited to work with the University of the South Pacific to advance the third pillar of the Center’s strategic plan—partner with the Pacific Islands—in concert with broader CROP efforts to deliver on the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent,” said Suzanne Puanani Vares-Lum, president of the East-West Center.

About the Pacific Islands Development Program at the East-West Center
The Pacific Islands Development Program, or PIDP, is a distinct entity based at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, that works toward empowering Pacific peoples through programs informed by the voices of the region itself. Founded in 1980 at the request of Pacific Islands leaders under the visionary guidance of Fiji Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and Hawai‘i Governor George Ariyoshi, the program conducts a broad range of activities to enhance quality of life in Pacific communities.

Since its founding, the program has served as a platform for the region’s leaders to discuss critical issues and an institute to share use-inspired expertise, produce policy-relevant research, and train new generations of Pacific leaders. PIDP is a founding member of the Council of Regional Organizations of the Pacific (CROP) and serves as the secretariat for the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders (PICL), a regional council of 20 member governments that also serves as the program’s governing council.

About the University of the South Pacific
The University of the South Pacific (USP) is the premier institution of higher learning for the Pacific, uniquely placed in a region of extraordinary physical, social, and economic diversity, and challenges to serve the region’s need for high-quality tertiary education, research, and policy. Apart from being a tertiary institution, it also serves as an organization of regional cooperation and integration.

USP is jointly owned and governed by twelve Member Countries: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. The University has campuses in all Member Countries, with Fiji having three campuses. USP graduates gain knowledge and appreciation of the unity and diversity of Pacific Island cultures; understanding of the diverse economies and environments of the Pacific Islands; and commitment to the maintenance and strengthening of the societies of the Pacific.

About the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent
Endorsed by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in 2022, the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent is a living document that was developed through extensive national and regional consultations with Forum Member Countries, CROP agencies, non-state actors, and specialists. The strategy articulates Leaders’ vision for a resilient Pacific Region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity that ensures all Pacific peoples can lead free, healthy, and productive lives. Following endorsement by Leaders, the strategy has since been acknowledged by Members of other regional intergovernmental bodies, as well as by other countries that seek to engage and work with the Pacific. Both the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and its Implementation Plan as endorsed by Leaders in 2023 may be found on the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat website.

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