The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Research Office, UNDP-USP Innovation Hub and Sports Matters hosted a stakeholder forum on “Tackling Innovation & SDG’s through Sports” on Thursday 19 September, 2019 at its Laucala Campus in Suva.
The forum that was officiated by Fiji Rugby Union legend, Mr. Seremaia Bai, focused on unpacking the value of rugby, exploring the role of sports development tools and learning about the impact of specific initiatives in the Pacific. It was aimed to address Innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through sport. Mr. Bai spoke on “Inspiring change on and off the rugby field”.
In his welcome address, Professor Jito Vanualailai, Director Research of the Research and International Office, spoke on the role of USP in supporting innovation and SDGs through sports.
“The University plans to extend our support on innovation through the establishment of various Innovation Hubs in the region, in collaboration with UNDP. This can give opportunities to sport lovers, clubs, communities, and organisations to utilize the Hub or the University in a way it can support their innovative ideas and skills in sport,” emphasised Professor Jito.
He also added that USP’s “new SRT themes have been reviewed to reflect the global 17 SDGs with the intention to improve good health, quality education, gender equality, innovation, and so forth.”
The forum was part of the 2019 Rugby World Cup – Campus and Community Activation programme facilitated by Sports Matters, an organisation dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives using the power of sport as a tool for development in Australia, the Pacific, Asia and Africa. Sport Matters combines sport and play with other non-sport outcomes to achieve specific development goals.
The forum also included presentations from Ms Semaima Lagilagi – Get Into Rugby Plus Coordinator for Fiji, Oceania Rugby, Mr Michael Noa Bete Din – Chairperson, Fiji Deaf Rugby Union (FDRU), Ms Matelita Vuakoso – FASANOC Voices of the Athletes Program Officer, Ms Ema Likuuca Vereivalu (Fiji Representative from NRL Fiji) & Ms Sakaguchi Mai (Japan Representative from Japan Sport Council), Mr Taku Yamaguchi – Assistant Professor, University of Tsukuba, Japan and Mr Akuila Sovanivalu of Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Regional Office for the Pacific.
To conclude the speakers and guests in attendance drafted possible guidelines on Human Rights approaches for and through Sports.