CAPTION: The President of Fiji, His Excellency, RatuEpeli Nailatikau, in the centre, with PSA President, Dr Nancy Lewis (left), USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra, and participants of the 12th Pacific Science Inter-Congress.
The President of Fiji, His Excellency, HonourableRatuEpeli Nailatikau officially opened the 12th Pacific Science Inter-Congress (PSIC) at the FMF Gymnasium in Suva, today.
The University of the South Pacific is the proud host of the 12th PSIC, which takes place every four years, and is a key initiative of the Pacific Science Association (PSA), established in 1920, as a platform for discussion between academics, scientists and scholars from around the world.
The President, in his address, said, the theme of the conference, “Science for Human Security and Sustainable Development of the Pacific Islands and Rim”, indicates that the concerns of the organisers of the Inter-Congress mirror the concerns of everyone else, especially in the Pacific region.
“The presence of international, regional and local participants including an impressive list of academics, scientists, researchers, practitioners, teachers and students from around the Asia-Pacific rim demonstrates commitment on your part and on the part of the Pacific Science Association as well as The University of the South Pacific, to the advancement of science, technology and engineering,” His Excellency said.
He acknowledged the efforts of the PSA, in facilitating science that focuses on major issues and problems in the Asia-Pacific region, and to engage science in the service of the region especially to improve both the environment and the quality of life for people in the Pacific.
He said as part of his research, he had found that advancement in scientific knowledge is the result of serendipitous interactions and efforts that are borne of cross-fertilization across scientific disciplines.
“Thus, one of the major purposes, and values of Pacific Science Congresses and Inter-Congresses like this one, is to encourage greater cross-disciplinary interaction, which is essential to advancing scientific understanding of critical and complex issues,” His Excellency said.
He requested the participants of the Inter-Congress and the PSA to “not only discuss the advancements in science, technology and engineering, but more importantly to also ensure that these advancements are used to address the real issues facing the region”.
His Excellency encouraged the participants to explore solutions and be results-oriented and to translate the meeting outcomes into easily understood messages that can be used by people in the Pacific to improve their everyday lives now and in the future.
“I also encourage you to form greater and stronger partnerships with governments in the region so that your findings can be translated into policies that can have real and tangible impacts on our people,” he added.
“It goes without saying that you need to collaborate fully to develop and implement realistic and practical solutions to the threats against a backdrop of sustainable development including: biodiversity, ecosystem services, and resilient societies; information and communication technologies; food, water, energy and health; society, culture and gender; governance, economic development and public policy; climate change, impacts and climate science; and oceans, among other,” he said.
With the participants having a week to deliberate on the seven sub-thematic issues highlighted, the President challenged them to use this time wisely, and to take the emerging ideas and the new technologies and put them into practical forms so they can be used easily to find the solutions needed to ensure human security and sustainable development for the Pacific region.
The President of one of USP’s 12 member countries, Kiribati, His Excellency, MrAnote Tong, sent a video message from Kiribati, highlighting the significance of the Inter-Congress to the Pacific region, and indicated that the key issue of climate change needs to be thoroughly discussed at the meet.
USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra, in warmly welcoming the participants to the conference, thanked his Excellency, HonourableRatuEpeli Nailatikau and the President of Kiribati, His Excellency, HonourableAnote Tong for delivering their addresses at the opening.
He mentioned that the University had hosted the eighth PSI with the theme ‘Islands in the Pacific Country’ and it is honoured to be given the opportunity to host this crucial conference again.
Professor Chandra said the presence of the President and the distinguished guests attests to the importance of this prestigious event for Pacific Island countries and the international academic community.
“Throughout this week, there will be some exciting presentations on issues crucial to the Pacific Islands, as well as debates, workshops and lively panel discussions,” Professor Chandra said.
“We all look forward to the outcomes of the congress and what they can offer as long-term benefits to our region in human security and sustainable development,” he added.
The PSA, represented by its President, Dr Nancy Lewis, indicated that it was grateful to the university for hosting and showing its support towards the Inter-Congress.
Main sponsors of the conference include the European Union, the government of Fiji, Tourism Fiji, Fiji Airways, Holiday Inn, UNESCO, CTA, Cocal Cola, Aquasafe, Fiji Water, Westpac, Fiji Times, Vodafone, Na Draki and Motibhai.