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USP graduates first PhD in Climate Change in Fiji

The University of the South Pacific (USP)in Fiji graduated its first PhD in Climate Change on 21 March 2019, as part of the graduation ceremony of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE).

Jale Samuwai’s thesis titled “will the tide of climate finance finally turn in our favour? Three essays on accessing and mobilising climate finance in Oceania Post Paris agreement”

Samuwai, who works as a Regional Climate Finance Advisor for Oxfam Pacific, was lost for words when he learnt he was the recipient of the first PhD in Climate Change.

The Vanua Levu lad shared that it had been a tough journey to success, and was thankful for having a good support system at home, work and University.

He said that there were many challenges, many sleepless nights but was satisfied that with all the sacrifice, the reward was sweet. He acknowledged the University for providing him with the resources and making the environment conducive for studying.

“I would like to thank God for giving me knowledge and strength, my wife and parents for the support rendered. I would also like to thank the European Union for the scholarship, the staff of PaCE-SD, my supervisor, Dr Jeremy Hills, and my friends for their support,” Samuwai said.

He added that his choice to study climate change was primarily because this is a very real issue, especially in the Pacific and is an issue that will become more prominent in the next 10-12 years.

“It is a developmental issue and political issue, and we in the Pacific are most vulnerable to it. We cannot talk development in the region without talking climate change,” he said.

He added that a lot more expertise is needed in this area, whether it be climate finance, mitigation, capacity building or risk. There is a need for experts and the University to design classes that will address climate change needs of the Pacific.

While commending USP for providing qualifications on Climate Change up to PhD level, he added that USP, in terms of its mandate, should build capacity in providing solutions to global issues such as this.

He acknowledged USP for creating a centre like PaCE-SD that nurtures discussions and applications on climate change mitigation applications best suited for the region

“Ten years ago, nobody was talking about climate change, now it is becoming a big deal here on the frontline,” he said.

His message to students who intend to pursue their studies in climate change is to go for it, as this is a topical issue at the moment.

“It is here to stay. Everybody is talking about climate change, be in academia, practice, finance or health, so if you want to do higher education studies in climate change, there is always going to be a job for you,” he said.

“You are contributing to something meaningful and impactful to the region, so go for it,” he said.

He hopes to apply his climate change expertise in his current job.



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