5.7.16 | Science, technology and innovation as corner stones of sustainable development of the South Pacific region were at the centre of the final PACE-NET+ conference. Siaosi Sovaleni, Vice Prime Minister of Tonga, opened the two-day event in Nadi (Fiji), which was attended by more than 100 representatives from science, politics and society from the EU and the South Pacific region. As one of 16 international partners of the PACE-Net network scientists and coordinators from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) also took part in the dialogue forum organised by the University of the South Pacific’s Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment.

Within the framework of the PACE-Net+ programme, which is financed by the European Commission, a number of different think tanks had identified scientific needs and developed research projects to fill those gaps. 21 of these projects had received seed funding via the PACE-Net+ network and the project results were presented during the conference. Activities included projects in health, demographic change, food security, sustainable agriculture, marine sciences, deep-sea mining, biotechnology as well as climate change and usage of resources and raw materials.

ZMT was responsible for marine science and presented the programme for the seed funding by PACE-Net+. Corinna Harms, PACE-Net+ coordinator at ZMT, was happy with the success of the three-year measure: “PACE-Net+ has brought the South Pacific as a region and above all its island states on the agenda of national, European and international Institutions from science and politics. Collaborations, relations and contacts resulting from the programme can now be continued and strengthened.” Within the marine sciences in particular the interest for consolidation and development of cooperations was strong, she says.

The second day of the conference focused on the innovation capacity of the South Pacific region in the areas of “blue economy” and biotechnology. The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) presented the results of its studies and assessments. Innovation capacity was high in the region but applied science needed to be developed further, the UNIDO representative Dr. Augusto Luis Alcorta said. More intensive regional collaboration between the South Pacific states and Europe was necessary. As a first step in this direction the universities of the region formed an alliance to speak as one more powerful voice. PACE-Net+ members and conference attendees also agreed on further cooperation in the areas of science, technology and innovation between the European Union and the Pacific region to strengthen the political dialogue in the long-term.

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