The Pacific Community’s (SPC) Pacific Islands Conference on Ocean Science and Ocean Management, begins today in Fiji with more than 200 delegates from across the region and the world.
The first of its kind in the Pacific, this conference brings together ocean scientists, technical experts, policymakers, young people, and custodians of traditional knowledge to address vital issues concerning the Pacific Ocean and its region is facing, under the theme “An Ocean of Knowledge for our Sea of Islands.”
SPC Director General Dr Stuart Minchin remarked: “This is an unprecedented opportunity for stakeholders across the Pacific to come together and address pressing ocean-related challenges. Through collaboration, showcasing scientific excellence, and discussing integrated ocean management and ocean science, we aim to chart a sustainable future together for our Blue Pacific. This conference will focus on solutions and the science we need, for the ocean we want for future generations.”
Organised in the framework of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), or ‘Ocean Decade’, this conference will highlight SPC’s recent recognition as a new Ocean Decade Collaborative Centre (DCC) for ocean science in the Pacific region.
“Spread widely across the oceanic region, Pacific Island countries and territories are strongly connected with and highly dependent on the Pacific Ocean as a source of livelihoods, food security, social and cultural needs,” emphasised Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO – the institution in charge of implementing the Ocean Decade – and Assistant Director-General of UNESCO.
“We are thrilled to welcome SPC on board the Ocean Decade ship and look forward to the discussions that will help collectively identify and prioritize science-based solutions that truly respond to the specific needs of this region.”
The DCC will play a key role in coordinating efforts for sustainable development in a region where most countries and territories are Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs). In particular, it aims to strengthen collaboration, coordination, and integration of ocean science by endorsed Decade Actions in the Pacific, lead targeted communications and outreach, and partner with other regional organisations, the private sector, communities, and civil society to deliver on the 10 Ocean Decade Challenges. This endorsement underpins the Pacific’s dedication to advancing ocean science and integrated ocean management, making the conference a pivotal moment for collective action and dialogue.
The conference offers a variety of session formats, including presentations, discussions, deep dives, and posters, facilitating engaging conversations, networking and knowledge exchange. It revolves around key themes, each holding immense significance for ocean science and management:
* Prioritising Pacific Ocean science and management: Collaborative discussions on crucial ocean science and management priorities, raising sustainable policies and cooperation.
*Showcasing Pacific scientific excellence: A platform for scientists to present innovative research, contributing to evidence-based decision-making and the advancement of ocean and fisheries science.
* Building a path towards integrated Ocean Management: Evaluation of current integrated ocean management approaches and needs, identification of gaps, and promotion of strong policy frameworks with decision support systems that include traditional knowledge.
*Harnessing the power of traditional knowledge: Highlighting the incorporation of traditional knowledge, science, and ocean management for more culturally appropriate and effective practices.
*Shaping the ocean decade in the Pacific: Defining goals, priorities, and strategies for the Ocean Decade’s implementation in the Pacific region, fostering transformative change and stronger partnerships.
The Pacific Ocean Conference promises to be a milestone event, uniting a diverse community of stakeholders to address critical ocean-related challenges, sharing on cutting-edge approaches and collectively working toward a sustainable future for the Blue Pacific.
The outcomes of the conference will serve as a roadmap highlighting Pacific priorities on the global stage on the path to the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona, Spain, on 10-12 April 2024, and beyond.