The Acting Assistant Secretary for the U.S Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) ennifer Littlejohn Tuesday joined Pacific Community (SPC) Deputy Director General Paula Vivili to sign a USD$1.5 million Gender Equity and Equality Action grant.

The grant will support implementation of SPC’s Pacific Energy and Gender Strategic Action Plan (PEGSAP), launched at the October 2022 Pacific Regional Women in Energy Conference.

The conference was co-hosted by U.S Embassy Suva, SPC, and the U.S State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources.

As acting Assistant Secretary for the OES bureau, Jennifer Littlejohn is the United States’s top diplomat for ocean, science, and environment issues. The mission of the OES bureau is to provide U.S leadership, diplomacy, and scientific cooperation to conserve and protect the global environment, ocean, and space for the prosperity, peace, and security of the current and future generations.

“This exciting new partnership – Promoting Pacific Women’s and Girls’ Climate and Clean Energy Leadership – capitalises on the talent that exists right here in the Pacific Islands and the ambition here to put it to work. This programme is important because the stakes are so very high, especially here in the Pacific. We are at a critical juncture when it comes to the climate crisis. And the effects of a changing climate are felt acutely here in the Pacific,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Littlejohn.

Around the world and in the Pacific, women and girls are on the frontlines of climate impacts and solutions. This new USD US$1.5 million initiative will support implementation SPC’s PEGSAP, which promotes women’s climate and clean energy leadership and economic security by increasing career and income generating opportunities for women and girls in 22 Pacific Island countries and territories. PEGSAP accomplishes these goals through pilot projects to promote women-owned businesses in the renewable energy systems sector and scholarships for women and girls to pursue studies in relevant science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

During her trip to Suva, the acting Assistant Secretary met with a range of Fiji government, regional organisation, and non-governmental organisation representatives to discuss bilateral and regional cooperation on climate, oceans, and other shared environmental priorities.

In a lecture for students at the University of the South Pacific (USP), she also announced a USD$5 million grant to USP to establish a new Resilience and Adaptation Fellowship for Rising Leaders. This partnership with select U.S universities will strengthen USP as a centre of excellence to help the Pacific meet climate-related and environmental challenges and help train the next generation of Pacific leaders and scientists to manage resources here and lend their voices to global efforts.