USP students hold climate change dialogue with Her Royal Highness Mary Elizabeth, Crown Princess of Denmark


The University of the South Pacific (USP) recently welcomed Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth to its Laucala Campus, where she held climate change discussions with student body members.

Her Royal Highness Princess Mary is in Fiji as the United Nations Population Fund Patron and was accompanied to the USP Laucala Campus by Danish Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy, Honourable Dan Jorgensen.

USP Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Education and Vice-President Professor Jito Vanualailai welcomed Her Royal Highness Princess Mary to the university’s Laucala Campus in Fiji yesterday (April 26, 2023).

Professor Jito said, “We are proud of our achievements and contributions to the Pacific community, but we also recognise that we have much to learn from others. We are honoured to have Her Royal Highness here at USP to share her insights and experiences with us. We hope this visit will strengthen the ties between Denmark and the Pacific and inspire us to work together for a better future.”

Princess Mary acknowledged the welcome by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, following which she engaged in a 60-minute-long dialogue with the 19 USP students pursuing their Master’s and Postgraduate studies in Climate Change, Politics and International Relations, and journalism.

USP Master of Science student Ms Shirleen Sahai shared some of her research findings on how faith plays an important role for communities in times of disaster.

“Coming from the Pacific, many people hold close to them their faith; in each village, there are one or two churches, and religious leaders are very influential in their communities as well,” Ms Sahai shared.

She said, “Faith is how we make sense of the world; it is also a way to get across messages of preparedness in times of disasters.”

Ms Salote Nasalo, also a Master’s student in Climate Change, shared how adaptation for communities who relocate can also have its challenges.

“One of the first communities in Fiji to relocate is in Vanua Levu. This coastal community has shifted far inland; for most of them, fishing is their means of providing food for their families. For generations they have been fishermen, now with the relocation, they will need to learn how to farm,” she said.

Her Royal Highness Princess Mary in her contribution said, “This is a really exciting opportunity for us because every young person we have met has been so impressive on our visit so far. Some amazing things are happening amongst the youth here in the region, which is very much needed.”

“I come from a country with a very well-respected and well-known voice in international climate negotiations. We are a leader in terms of green solutions and new technologies, we also work to bring people together in partnerships, mutual trust, and open dialogue, and we truly believe in the power of joining together and uniting our competencies and research because climate change is a global problem and has to be solved through working together,” Princess Mary added.

Danish Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy, Honourable Dan Jorgensen said, “We have been looking forward to holding discussions with the young people here.”

“If we want to fight climate change and be stable at 1.5 degrees which is necessary, we need to change our societies fundamentally, and we need to do it this time not with just one country taking the lead, with us all working together,” he added.

Honourable Jorgensen said in Denmark, “We have adopted the most ambitious Climate Act in the world to reduce our carbon emissions by 70 per cent by 2030. By 2050, we will be carbon negative, so we must reduce by 110 per cent. Hopefully, we will develop new technologies that can also be utilised elsewhere.”

The students were able to share with Her Royal Highness and the Honourable Minister their various research and outcomes of their research. There were also discussions around the work students put in to be heard before the International Court of Justice. Vishaal Prasad shared his experience and what he is now working on as a Master of Politics and International relations student.




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