The Rt Hon Heather Wheeler, British Minister for Asia and Pacific (Middle) at the USP Lower Campus.
The Right Honourable Heather Wheeler, British Minister of State for Asia and Pacific, said she was pleased to see first-hand some of the work done on tackling climate change and protecting the ocean and in particular the fruits of the University of the South Pacific’s collaboration with the United Kingdom’s Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme.
She made these remarks at the briefing on Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme, held at USP’s lower campus yesterday.
The University’s Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia officially welcomed the Chief Guest and the delegation from the British High Commission.
He said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is leading this programme, which showcases UK’s world leading expertise in marine science through delivery partners at the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).
Hon Wheeler told students and staff that the future health of the world we live in is of a paramount concern.
“I am delighted that the new Queen Elizabeth Scholarships for Climate Resilience, announced last year by Their Royal Highnesses, will give students here the opportunity to share knowledge and ideas about this vital topic with your counterparts in the University of the West Indies,” she stated.
“Thanks to this partnership, ocean acidification sensors are now measuring the impacts of climate change in Fiji’s waters. The data, these sensors collect will be invaluable in informing Fiji’s planning and response.”
She congratulated USP on attracting funding through the One Ocean Hub and she is already looking forward to seeing the results of this research.
“By working together, and pooling our knowledge, ingenuity and resources, we can meet the challenges of climate change and ensure a sustainable, prosperous and secure future for us all,” said Honorable Wheeler.
Professor Ahluwalia said the Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme was announced by the British Prime Minister in 2015 and subsequently launched in 2016.
“This UK government programme aims to support the marine economies (also referred to as blue economies) of 17 Commonwealth Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The programme promotes growth, innovation, jobs and investment, whilst safeguarding healthy seas and ecosystems,” he said.
“The programme supports CME SIDS by building the capacity of the islands to manage their marine resources and develop their national maritime economies. It is also helping to address climate change, including the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development) and the Paris Climate Change Accord.”
He said the CME Programme ensures that activities and initiatives across nations and regions are harmonised to avoid overlaps and recognises synergies. This aligns with the FCO’s work to bring together all of the government’s international oceans work under a single strategy as announced by the Foreign Secretary in June last year..
This visit strengthens the university’s relationship with the Commonwealth in terms of capacity building, scholarships and research. A Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme Phase 2 have been submitted for funding approval. The Phase 2 is considered to strengthen USP programmes in Kiribati, Fiji and the Solomon Islands in partnership with CEFAS, NOC and the Association of Commonwealth University’s Climate Change Resilience Network (ACU-CCRN) with emphasis on scholarships for research capacity building.
A small brief on the CME Programme and appreciation was done by Dr Morgan Wairiu, Acting Director of the USP’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) and Dr Gilianne Brodie followed by a tour of the Marine Collection and Herbarium in the School of Marine Studies.
Hon Minister Wheeler’s visit to lower campus was a collaboration between PaCE-SD and the School of Marine Studies.
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