Caption: Participants at the Oceania Development Network’s fourth biennial conference.
The Oceania Development Network (one of 11 regional networks affiliated with the Global Development Network) is currently holding its fourth biennial conference over three days (10-12 September, 2013) at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala Campus. The present Chair of the Oceania Development Network (ODN), Professor Biman Prasad, of the University of the South Pacific’s School of Economics, opened the biennial conference and introduced the conference theme “Addressing Inequality and Promoting Inclusive and Sustainable Development”, and its relevance to the Pacific’s development challenges and the key objective of ODN in line with broader objectives of the Global Development Network in building “research capacity amongst the young and emerging researchers on issues of policy relevant to the Oceania Region”.
According to Professor Prasad, the ODN has “concentrated on young researchers who are not only working for research institutes but those working for government and non-governmental organisations”. The ODN has been able to support these objectives through workshops on policy briefs, the writing of research proposals and research methodologies.
Professor Prasad noted that the ODN has provided a relevant platform for policy makers in the region to “bridge the gap between research and policy”, for which it has drawn on significant research materials and sources available through the Global Development Network (GDN), represented at the three day conference by its President, Mr Pierre Jacques.
The work of the ODN has received significant support from the Australian Government through AusAID. Acting High Commissioner to Fiji, His Excellency Mr Glen Miles joined other panelists at the Opening Session on Wednesday 11th September following the Policy Relevant Research workshop conducted the previous day. Other panelists at the Opening Session included USP’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and International), Professor John Bythell and the first Plenary speaker, Mr Derek Brien, Head of the Pacific Institute of Public Policy who touched on the “Post 2015 Development agenda for the Pacific and its implications for public policy”.
During the course of the conference, several presentations are being made, including those by four imminent plenary speakers who apart from Mr Derek Brien include Professor Hurriyet Babacan, Professor of Development at the University of New England and Former Director of the Cairns Institute at the JCU, Professor Paresh Narayan, Alfred Deakin Professor of Finance at the Deakin University and Professor Vijay Naidu, Professor of Development Studies and Head of the School of Governance, Development and International Affairs at USP.
Professor Prasad, with regard to the significance of USP partnering with the Fiji National University in organizing the conference, noted that currently “we have been able to extend our network to include several more research institutions in the region” which aside from USP and FNU include Auckland University, the Australian National University (ANU) and more recently, the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) amongst other distinguished learning institutions from across the Pacific.
The Oceania Development Network (ODN) was formed in 2003 as a regional initiative to address issues surrounding development in the Pacific. Initially based at the University of the South Pacific, ODN then moved to the University of PNG (UPNG) and Samoa and returned to Fiji in 2010. The Executive Committee has been meeting to discuss a way forward for its next Strategic Plan for 2015-2017 in light of post-2015 Development priorities for the Pacific.