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Pacific Island Countries diplomats briefed on University of South Pacific developments

The University of the South Pacific(USP) held its first briefing session with the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) diplomats, based in Fiji on 13 July 2017 at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre at the Laucala Campus.

Its main purpose was to brief the PIC Diplomats and Fiji on the outcomes of the 84th USP Council Meeting; progress towards implementation of the USP Strategic Plan (2013-2018); plans for the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations; USP’s role in the EDF11 programming; Regional Campus Development, UN Oceans Conference, and an update on USP’s engagement to the Conference of the Parties (COP) 23 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Diplomats who attended the briefing included Litia Mawi, Fiji’s Roving Ambassador to the Pacific; Wilson Waguk, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Federated States of Micronesia (FSM); Jacinta Tony-Barrion, First Secretary, PNG High Commission; John Patteson Oti, Solomon Islands High Commissioner; Temate Melitiana, Tuvalu High Commissioner and Emmanual Blessings, Charge D’Áffaires, Vanuatu High Commission.

USP was represented by Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President, USP Senior Management Team and Jaindra Karan, Director Development, Marketing, Communications and Alumni including his staff.

Professor Chandra welcomed the diplomats saying their presence portrayed the value of commitment from their respective Governments in supporting and working together with USP towards elevating the regional capacity around climate change, resource mobilisation and the creation of equitable and sustainable development in the region.

The diplomats commended USP for its work in the region thus far in particular its role and participation at the recent UNOC, COP23 and UNFCC which they said are very critical for Pacific Island states.

John Patteson Oti, Solomon Islands High Commissioner thanked USP for the opportunity to organise such a forum. He congratulated USP for engaging with the ADB to boost knowledge collaboration. Such initiatives he said are very important as it connects all the member countries’ to USP’s partners.

Temate Melitiana, Tuvalu High Commissioner acknowledged USP for the good work so far in terms of securing new partnerships and assured that Tuvalu stands ready to support USP in any way possible.

Emmanual Blessings, Charge D’Áffaires, Vanuatu High Commission appreciated USP for the “immense work it is doing to engage external partners to support the University”. He confirmed the Government of Vanuatu also maintains its stand to support USP’s Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PACLII).

Jacinta Tony-Barrion, First Secretary, Papua New Guinea (PNG) High Commission said that PNG looked forward to continue working on securing its membership with USP.

Litia Mawi, Fiji’s Roving Ambassador to the Pacific reassured the University that Fiji as the host country, has an obligation to do whatever is required knowing the role Fiji plays as the hub of the Pacific.

She also confirmed a date for the Fiji Government’s signing of the USP Convention and informed the forum that the travel dates to the region for the President of Fiji, Jioji Konusi Konrote, as USP’s next Chancellor, were yet to be rolled out, adding that it would ideally coincide with the graduations at the regional campuses.

Furthermore, Mawi acknowledged USP for volunteering to host the International Civil Society Week 2017 in December and commended Australia and New Zealand for its continued partnership with USP “in educating the next generation of humanity.

She also congratulated ADB “for coming in with such innovative aspects of their partnership with USP”.

Professor Chandra noted that the recent UN Ocean Conference in New York demonstrated a strong emphasis on the University’s stance on their commitment and way forward in enhancing and broadening USP’s scope in the international arena, in relation to advancing and promoting climate resilience and environmental effects in and around the Pacific region.

He noted that regional campus development is well on track with the recent opening of the new Republic of Marshall Islands Campus and with the Nauru Campus nearing completion.

According to Professor Chandra, the University is also making significant progress in its deliberations with the Governments of PNG and Federated States of Micronesia in pursuit of their interest in becoming members of USP.

He highlighted the establishment of the Pacific Legal Information Institute (PacLII) project as an institute of the University. He expressed gratitude to the Government of PNG who provided funding for PacLII to carry out their services during this transition period and commitment of the Government of Vanuatu towards supporting PacLII, as an important resource for the Pacific.

He made mention of the bilateral High Level Consultations (HLC) with Australia and New Zealand, saying there were a lot of positive outcomes from both meetings and that the feedback received indicates the keen interest from the core development partners in assisting the University to address the needs of the Pacific region.

“There are also firmer indication for the continued support by both Australia and New Zealand towards the implementation of the University’s Strategic Plan (SP) 2019-2024,” he stated.

With regards to the plans for the 50th Anniversary Celebrations in 2018, USP he said, is mainly interested in ensuring that the member Governments are updated with its plans for the earmarking of its major milestone and also are actively engaged in supporting this initiatives.

“We would also look forward to contributions from your respective Governments, as valued members of the University to mark the 50th Anniversary by giving assistance,” he stated.

Professor Chandra also updated the forum on his recent fruitful visit to Manila where there were productive discussions with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in regard to leveraging USP’s growing partnership.

“We have signed the USP-ADB Cooperation Agreement to Strengthen Knowledge Collaboration and also to implement key development initiatives through a mutually agreed Annual Work-Plan,” he said.

Key immediate priorities include the strengthening of the University’s Centre for Economic Policy and Modelling (CEPM) through the technical expertise; the comprehensive feasibility study for the renewable energy project; and supporting the economic outlook for the Pacific.

“The University hopes to engage more with the member countries at both the national and regional level, in ensuring development issues are being addressed and requests by its member countries are met,” he added.

Professor Chandra concluded the briefing by reaffirming USP’s commitment to have close communication with its member countries with hopes to continue the same level of engagement.

For further queries please contact: Kalpana Prasad, Communications Manager at the Development, Marketing & Communications office on (679) 3232210 or email communications@usp.ac.fj

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