Safeguarding plentiful, nutritious supplies of food for the present generation of Pacific Islanders and those who come in the future is a frontline goal in the wake of the pandemic and the continual threat of climate extremes to island farming. But the region, where 50 to 70 percent of people depend on agriculture and fisheries for sustenance and income, is now one step ahead in that objective. The region’s agricultural gene bank, established by the development organisation, Pacific Community (SPC), is now acclaimed as world-class and a leader in building future food supplies.
Holothurians, also known as sea cucumbers, are an important source of income for coastal communities in the Pacific. Their exploitation has grown over the past decades, targeting international markets. In some parts of the world, they are considered a delicacy where they can fetch very high prices consequently, they are being overfished in some areas of the Pacific region.
Tonga was still picking up the pieces after the Hunga volcanic eruption and tsunami waves when the pandemic reached its shores.
Before the pandemic emerged in 2020, health services in many Pacific Island countries were under-resourced, under-funded and under-staffed. Now following recent outbreaks of COVID-19, advancing the capacity and development of health and medical services in vulnerable nations, such as Tonga and Kiribati, is increasingly urgent.
Oceans play a pivotal role in regulating the world’s climate and maintaining the conditions for human life on earth. And they are a crucial source of sustenance and economic wellbeing in many developing countries, including small island developing states. But Pacific Islanders are deeply concerned about the fate of the oceans if world leaders fail to secure the pledges needed to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 Degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels at the next COP27 climate change summit in November.
Tuvalu, a small atoll island nation in the Central Pacific Ocean, is one of few countries in the world to have so far evaded the pandemic. But, while it has achieved a milestone with no recorded cases of COVID-19, its population of about 11,931 continues to battle food uncertainties and poor nutrition. These challenges, present long before the pandemic emerged, have been exacerbated by lockdown restrictions and economic hardships during the past year and a half.
The Pacific has been battling the spread of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles (CRB) for years and is now challenged by the invasion of a new CRB biotype, the CRB-Guam strain, that has spread to seven Pacific Island countries in just a decade leaving thousands of dead palms in its wake. The Guam strain, together with much more established biotype CRB-S has hampered the success of renovation programmes for mature tall palms as well as newly emergent, high-value coconut product industries (such as virgin oil and coconut water) that offer economic opportunities for communities in the region.
Before the pandemic, many Pacific Island countries grappled with low numbers of students completing secondary education. Now experts in the region are concerned that the closure of schools to contain the spread of COVID-19, and the economic downturn, will lead to even more students dropping out of education early.
Fourteen Pacific Island Countries have enacted specific legislation to address domestic violence. While these laws have been developed to respond to domestic violence, implementation continues to be a challenge. It is affected by various factors that include practical social, cultural, religious, political, environmental and economic challenges.
Abundant with diverse coral and fish species, the South-West Pacific reefs play a critical role in the marine ecosystems and economies of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs). While there is no question that climate change is affecting coral, the level and type of impact is not uniform. To help us better understand why these differences exist, a team of marine scientists from New Caledonia set off on a scientific mission to sample coral species around the mainland of this Pacific Island nation.
Last week, the Tonga Laboratory Services completed the installation of a 4 module GeneXpert testing equipment used for diagnosis of COVID-19 infection and to increase SARS-coV-2 testing capacity.
Robby Nena is one of the many farmers and fishermen on the frontline of climate change in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), where coastal flooding and erosion, variable and heavy rainfall, increased temperature, droughts and other extreme weather events are becoming all too common.
In April 2021, the Pacific Community (SPC) coordinated the 14th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and the 7th Meeting of the Pacific Ministers for Women, hosted by the Government of French Polynesia. The conference brought together decision-makers, development partners, research institutions and civil society organisations. Following this landmark event, SPC will continue to publish portraits of inspiring gender champions who are at the heart of Pacific development programmes.
Policymakers worldwide consistently rank water scarcity among the greatest risks faced by humanity. In Pacific island countries and territories, where water resources are limited, it has become essential to reassess and adapt water planning and decision-making processes taking into account the current and future impacts of climate change.
As the UN and communities worldwide mark Desertification and Drought Day, the Pacific Community’s Land Resources Division (LRD) is strengthening its support for the sustainable restoration and management of Pacific countries’ landscapes, keeping in line with this year’s theme “turning degraded land into healthy land
A renowned Pacific gender equality champion and Technical Advisor of Shifting the Power Coalition, Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, believes that gender equality is about men and women working together and this can be achieved by diversifying media content to break gender stereotypes.
SPC hosted the first triennial conference of Pacific women more than 40 years ago with the purpose to create a space where Pacific women could meet, share their experiences and identify measures for the advancement of women.
While Pacific Island countries have, so far, been spared a catastrophic spread of COVID-19, their economies have been devastated by the effects of border closures, internal lockdowns and the demise of international tourism and trade. With the global pandemic far from over, Pacific Islanders are looking to their local and regional economies to drive resilience and recovery.
"Working in Science, like any other career, is fit for women too… Just go for it, nobody can stop you", Valérie Allain, Senior Fisheries Scientist at the Pacific Community (SPC).
In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 challenges all nations to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by the year 2030. As we think about this in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the emerging post-COVID-19 environment, what does inclusive and equitable education look like and how do we ensure that lifelong learning opportunities are benefitted by all?
On Friday, 15 January, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, was elected the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council for 2021. As the first Pacific islander to hold this position, the President has a unique opportunity to enhance the protection and promotion of human rights in Fiji and the Pacific, and to amplify Pacific voices on human rights issues at the global level. The presidency reflects the Pacific’s growing presence on the international human rights stage and comes at a time of increasing marginalisation, social exclusion and poverty arising out of COVID-19; opening the door for the President (and Fiji) to promote a human rights-based and people-centred approach to ‘building back better’.