The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) teaching, research and community projects have contributed to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14) – Life Below Water, one of the SDGs that the University was ranked in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022.
The University has supported communities within the region through its various programmes and projects, including the Restoration of Ecosystem Services and Adaptation to Climate Change (RESCCUE) project, Fiji Ridge to Reef (R2R) and the Pacific-European Union (EU) Marine Partnership (PEUMP) projects.
Under the School of Agriculture, Geography, Environment, Ocean and Natural Sciences (SAGEONS), USP had supported the achievements of SDG 14 by strengthening aquatic ecosystems, sustainable fisheries, aquatic systems, technologies, and waste disposal in education and actions.
The University, in supporting aquatic ecosystems through education, offered educational programmes on fresh-water ecosystems, including water irrigation practices, and water conservation for local and regional communities.
Through the Discipline of Marine Studies and Institute of Marine Resources and PEUMP, the University was able to facilitate programmes for communities on sustainable management of fisheries and aquaculture.
In the province of Ra, USP with the support of other partners contributed to the diagnosis and action plan of Freshwater Community–Based Protected Areas and Fisheries Management through the provision of educational programmes on the freshwater ecosystem under the RESCCUE project.
In addition, through the multi-partnership agreement with the Fiji Ridge to Reef project by the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS), USP developed community awareness information on the economic importance of freshwater protected areas. To further achieve this, IAS held guest lectures on seagrass habitats and their link to fisheries as part of the University’s final year Marine Science Programme. The project’s focus was to improve climate resilience and sustain livelihoods in Fiji.
Acting Director of IAS, Dr Isoa Korovulavula said he was proud of the work that was carried out by the RESCCUE and Ridge to Reef projects which have been beneficial to the communities.
“For both RESCCUE and Ridge to Reef projects, the strategies applied were similar in that both initiatives implemented nature-based solutions in conserving biodiversity within the water catchment areas and the coastal environment with the ultimate goal of enhancing the resilience of community livelihoods to the impacts of climate change.”
In supporting aquatic systems through action, IAS had been involved in the Pacific Islands Marine Bioinvasions Alert Network (PacMAN) Project, collaborating with the Fiji Ports Corporation Limited and the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji.
IAS also contributed to workshops on Fiji’s new National Oceans Policy and collaborated with the University of Singapore on workshops relating to nature-based solutions in coastal ecosystems in partnerships with the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD).
SAGEONS Head of School, Professor Surendra Prasad, said the University continued to work with other industry partners by way of research and engagements on technologies or practices that would enable the marine industry to minimise or prevent damage to aquatic ecosystems.
He added the University had contributed to the Pacific region through its many projects and hoped to continue assisting Pacific Island countries in achieving their SDGs.
“I am proud of USP’s ranking on SDG 14 as it shows the calibre of our expertise and commitment of the University towards the communities in the region. USP is a forward-thinking University and produces results that no University has done before and deserves the recognition in THE Impact Rankings 2022,” Professor Prasad said.
In the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022 announced last week, USP was ranked 76 out of 452 global institutions recognised in this category.