Africa is Better Placed Than Ever for Investment

The Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario of Mozambique engaged in a discussion titled, Invest in Africa's Space: Conversation with African Heads of State, moderated by Dr. Victor Oladokun, African Development Bank Group Director of External Relations and Communications, at the Africa Investment Forum, Johannesburg, 11 November 2019

By External Source
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Nov 18 2019 – The Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario of Mozambique engaged in a discussion titled, Invest in Africa’s Space: Conversation with African Heads of State, moderated by Dr. Victor Oladokun, African Development Bank Group Director of External Relations and Communications, at the Africa Investment Forum, Johannesburg, 11 November 2019.

 

 

President Cyril Ramaphosa identified infrastructure, energy, manufacturing and tourism as the sectors where the most investment opportunities exist in South Africa.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagama said his country has created a conducive investment environment through good governance systems and security, and according to the World Bank, it is the second easiest African country with which to do business.

For Ghana’s President. Nana Akufo-Addo, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area remains a priority. He says his government is working to strengthen the country’s macro-economy. The country’s current priorities are infrastructure, agriculture and mineral resources.

Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario representing the President of Mozambique, said his government is open to investment, fighting corruption and has improved transparency.

Heriot-Watt University Announces Ambitious Move To New Dubai Campus

Dubai, U.A.E., Nov. 18, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — 18 November 2019, Dubai, UAE "" Heriot–Watt University is building on its commitment to deliver high quality education and research in Dubai by announcing its relocation to a brand–new campus in 2021.

The University, which has operated in Dubai since 2005 and recently earned a prestigious five–star ranking from Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), has signed a 10–year lease for a 218,000 sq. ft campus in the Dubai Knowledge Park.

With a heritage dating back to 1821, Heriot–Watt was established in Edinburgh, Scotland and provides high quality degree education internationally to 28,000 students, with almost 4000 in Dubai.

Provost & Vice–Principal of Heriot–Watt Dubai campus, Professor Ammar Kaka, said: "This announcement marks a historic milestone for Heriot–Watt and ensures our students will enjoy the benefits of an enriched learning experience and outstanding graduate outcomes for many years to come.

"Since our launch in 2005, the University has grown considerably in Dubai and I'm delighted to say our agreement with Dubai Knowledge Park means we will continue to make a significant impact, delivering long–term benefits to the Dubai and UAE economy and local community.

"This move is a key part of delivering Heriot–Watt's ambitious six–year strategy for the University and demonstrates our commitment to the region and growth plans for the future."

Staff and students will move to the new campus as of January 2021 "" the same year Heriot–Watt celebrates its founding bicentenary.

The modern campus is set to enhance further the student experience with a digitally enabled learning environment supporting the delivery of the University's portfolio of programmes including in Data Science, Computing and AI, business, accounting and finance, psychology, architecture and design, construction and engineering.

The campus will include a dedicated student hub, a central student services centre, enhanced library and social learning spaces, as well as the wide range of digitally enhanced classrooms, seminar rooms, studios, and laboratories. The University's in–house recording studios will also allow the creation of digital materials for a more engaging and interactive learning experience. Furthermore, a new business and enterprise locale will generate increased opportunities for students to engage directly with business and industry, providing graduates with unique learning experiences.

Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the KHDA, the body responsible for the growth and quality of private education in the country, said: "Dubai is home to the largest number of international branch campuses in the world. The opening of a new Heriot–Watt campus in 2021 further strengthens Dubai's position as a leading international study destination and builds on the wide–range of education choices available for students. This important milestone aligns with Dubai's future aspirations and works towards creating new opportunities for delivering high–quality education."

The Dubai Knowledge Park sits adjacent to the Dubai Media City as well as the Dubai Internet City and boasts excellent transport links such as the Dubai Metro and Tramway. It holds more than 500 businesses and has established itself as a centre of excellence for higher education and professional development.

Mohammad Abdullah, Managing Director of Dubai Knowledge Park, said "This partnership, which is in line with the UAE's growing knowledge economy, further cements Dubai's position as a leading educational hub. By supporting our partners within our vibrant community, we enable them to offer world–class learning opportunities academic programmes. We value our longstanding partnership with the university and their investment in developing talent in line with the needs of the future economy."

The campus move has been warmly welcomed by Soehl Mathew Abraham, President of the Dubai Student Council, who said, "This is exciting news not only for existing students but for anyone considering coming to study at Heriot–Watt in Dubai.

"The new central location will be another reason to choose Heriot–Watt and it's fantastic to see the University continue to invest for the future."

Heriot–Watt University was invited to open a campus in Dubai 14–years–ago courtesy of its international reputation for delivering first–class education, particularly in science and engineering, and producing globally employable graduates.

The University operates five campuses across the UK, Dubai and Malaysia as well as an extensive range of online study programmes. For more information on the courses currently available at Heriot–Watt's Dubai campus visit https://www.hw.ac.uk/dubai.htm

–END–

About Heriot–Watt University Dubai

As the first British university to set up a campus in Dubai in 2005, and the only one with a five–star accreditation by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), Heriot–Watt University Dubai has established itself as a pioneer in the higher education market in the UAE. The University's reputation for world–class teaching and practical, leading–edge research combined with its strong links to business and industry, has seen it attract a thriving population of undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Heriot–Watt University Dubai offers an extensive range of programmes and disciplines, spanning postgraduate and undergraduate courses. Heriot–Watt graduates are highly employable and sought after by the best organizations worldwide, with over 90% in graduate level jobs or further study within six months of graduation.

For more information, please visit https://www.hw.ac.uk/dubai.htm

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Net Food Importer Turkey Grapples with Challenges of Food Self-sufficiency

Turkey’s farmers struggle with the effects of climate change, land degradation and other barriers to sustainable agriculture. Mark Nesbitt/CC by 2.0

By Ed Holt
VIENNA, Nov 18 2019 – Despite latest research showing Turkey lagging in overall food sustainability, progress in sustainable agriculture appears to be a bright spot in the country’s troubled agriculture industry.

But local farming groups, NGOs and international bodies, while welcoming government efforts to promote sustainable farming, are urging more to be done as farmers struggle with the effects of climate change, land degradation and other barriers to sustainable agriculture.

Turkey is the world’s 7th-largest agricultural producer, according to United Nations estimates, producing and exporting a wide variety of crops and other agricultural products.

Historically, the agricultural sector has also played a fundamental role in Turkey’s society and economy. Agriculture is the largest single employer – accounting for about a quarter of the country’s workforce by some estimates – and a major contributor to overall GDP, exports and rural development.

But in the last two decades the industry has changed. It is thought that as many as 2.5 million small-scale farmers have been forced to leave rural parts of the country to move to major cities in the hope of finding jobs amid rising costs of supplies and equipment for farming. This has not only hurt rural village communities but left millions of hectares of land unfarmed.

Turkey, having once boasted globally-enviable food self-sufficiency, has now become a net food importer.

This has raised concerns over its food security and overall food sustainability.

In the latest Food Sustainability Index compiled by the Economic Intelligence Unit and the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition Foundation (BCFN), Turkey ranked 58th among 67 countries in terms of food sustainability.

But as experts point out, some areas of agriculture in the country, specifically sustainable agriculture, are seeing important progress.

“The food sustainability challenges Turkey faces are no different to those faced globally: population growth, rapid urbanisation and instability in rainfall regimes due to climate change are the major challenges,” Aysegul Selisik, Assistant Representative in Turkey for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), told IPS.

“The Food Sustainability Index is a composite of various indicators across three categories – nutrition, sustainable agriculture and food loss and waste, and Turkey’s overall score was low among 67 countries. However, this does not mean Turkey is poor in every dimension of food sustainability, it scored highly for nutrition and sustainable agriculture,” she added.

The FAO points to a number of recent initiatives set up across the country, some of which it is involved in, which have helped educate farmers about sustainable agriculture and promote its use.

One example is the establishment of so-called farmer field schools in the Konya Basin in the Central Anatolia region of the country promoting and supporting sustainable production and conservation, teaching farmers about, among others, reduced tillage techniques and programmed irrigation and water saving.

FAO says these initiatives will build on the knowledge and experience of thousands of farmers with further potential for scaling up to other topics and regions to strengthen farmers’ capacities in conservation agriculture.

The government has also run training programmes for farmers in provinces across the country with the aim of promoting sustainable, efficient and environment-friendly agricultural production, including the efficient use of all resources and conservation of land, plant and water resources. The programmes have been attended by hundreds of thousands of farmers, according to the government.

Meanwhile, other organisations are also helping farmers adopt more sustainable practices, including providing direct financial support. Banks such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have loaned tens of millions of dollars to organic farmers to help improve land management, use of energy and resource-saving technologies, as well as reduce and recover waste.

The state-owned Ziraat Bankasi (Agriculture Bank) has launched a training programme for young farmers to teach them about best agricultural practices.

Smaller organisations are also helping, with some using innovative technology to help increase agricultural sustainability. The fair trade company Tarlamvar, for instance, has created an online platform brining small-scale farmers and consumers together by tracking the path of food from a farm to a person’s dining table.


“Not only are we helping famers to have a more marketable product and connecting them with customers, we’re also helping consumers to be more conscious about where their food comes from and how it is grown,” Ata Cengiz, Tarlamvar CEO, told local media in August.

However, while these initiatives have been welcomed by many groups, some environmental activists say the government needs to be doing more to combat some of the threats to sustainable agriculture.

Agricultural food production is dependent on biodiversity, providing protection for crops and helping reduce pests and disease, as well as affecting things such as soil fertility and pollination.

But at the same time research has shown that intensified farming has been associated with the loss of certain wild species.

Speaking to the Turkish news website hurriyetdailynews.com in May this year, Hikmet Ozturk of the Turkish Foundation for Combatting Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA) warned that Turkey’s uniquely broad biodiversity was under threat.

“We need to adopt environmentally friendly sustainable agricultural practices,” he said.

Pointing to the threat to biodiversity posed by land degradation and the overuse of pesticides and fertilisers, he added that “the administration is aware [of the threat to biodiversity], but the work being done is insufficient. There is still much other work that could be done for the protection of species and genetic sources”.

Ozturk, like others, is also worried about climate change and the effect this will have on sustainable agriculture.

Current climate change models suggest that in the coming years the Mediterranean region will see more droughts and less rainfall. TEMA’s Ozturk has estimated that as much as 47 percent of Turkey’s land is at risk of desertification due to low rainfall.

“Geographical location, climate, topography and soil conditions, together with the country’s socio-economic interactions, increase sensitivity to climate change impacts, desertification and drought. The possible impacts of climate change in Turkey are expected to be severe, particularly on water resources, agriculture and food security, and ecosystem services,” said the FAO’s Selisik.

The Turkish government has said it is aware of the potential problems of climate change for farming and its National Agriculture Project aimed at ensuring food security through sustainable agricultural production involves projects for the conservation of natural resources.

It has also launched various incentives and projects for farmers to adapt to climate change, including training on implementing climate friendly agricultural practices such as preferring adaptive species, drip irrigation systems and direct sowing.

Despite apparent progress on promoting and adopting sustainable farming in Turkey, however, the challenges faced by farmers in transitioning to sustainable agriculture remain great.

Small, fragmented farms, an ageing population, high input and investment costs, price fluctuations in agricultural raw materials and products are all a worry for farmers, explained Selisik.

“A lack of knowledge about climate friendly agricultural practices, farmer organisation and consultancy services are other barriers to a transformation towards more sustainable farms,” she added.

“Transformational Benefits” of Ending Outdoor Defecation

We realised that if issues around social justice had to be taken to scale, and if we wanted to create deeper impact,we needed to involve the communities affected.

A Dalit woman stands outside a dry toilet located in an upper caste villager’s home in Mainpuri, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Credit: Shai Venkatraman/IPS

By External Source
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 18 2019 – Ending the practice of defecating in the open, rather than in a toilet, will have “transformational benefits” for some of the world’s most vulnerable people, says the UN’s partner sanitation body, the WSSCC (Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council).

Ahead of World Toilet Day, which is marked annually on 19 November, WSSCC’s acting Executive Director, Sue Coates, has been speaking to UN News about how to end open defecation.

 

What is open defecation and where is it mostly practiced?

Open defecation is when people defecate in the open – for example, in fields, forests, bushes, lakes and rivers – rather than using a toilet. Globally, the practice is decreasing steadily, however its elimination by 2030, one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires a substantial acceleration in toilet use particularly in Central and Southern Asia, Eastern and Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Poor sanitation and hygiene practices (for example, not handwashing with soap after defecation and before eating) contribute to over 800,000 deaths from diarrhoea annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)

UN agencies report that of the 673 million people practicing open defecation, 91 per cent live in rural areas. An increase in population in countries including Nigeria, Tanzania, Madagascar and Niger, but also in some Oceania states, is leading to localized growth in open defecation.

 

Why is open defecation such a serious problem?

Open defecation is an affront to the dignity, health and well-being, especially of girls and women. For example, hundreds of millions of girls and women around the world lack privacy when they are menstruating. Open defecation also risks exposing them to increased sexual exploitation and personal safety and is a risk to public health.

According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one gram of faeces can contain 10 million viruses, one million bacteria and one thousand parasite cysts. Poor sanitation and hygiene practices (for example, not handwashing with soap after defecation and before eating) contribute to over 800,000 deaths from diarrhoea annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO): that’s more people than who die from malaria.

 

Why has it been so difficult to stop it?

Open defecation has been practiced for centuries; it is an ingrained cultural norm in some societies. Stopping it requires a sustained shift in the behaviour of whole communities so that a new norm, toilet use by all, is created and accepted. Ending open defecation requires an ongoing investment in the construction, maintenance and use of latrines, and other basic services.

 

How are people’s lives improved once they have a toilet to use?

On a day-to-day basis, the ability to use a toilet – at home and work, and in public places such as schools, health centres and markets – is a basic human right. Sanitation has transformational benefits supporting aspects of quality of life, equity and dignity for all people.

 

To what extent is sanitation a central part of overall development?

A lack of at least basic sanitation and hygiene services, including a lack of informed choice about menstrual health and hygiene, is a violation of the human rights to water and sanitation, as well as the rights to health, work, adequate standard of living, non-discrimination, human dignity, protection, information, and participation.

WHO and UNICEF report that in 2016, 21 per cent of healthcare facilities globally had no sanitation service, directly impacting more than 1.5 billion people, and over 620 million children worldwide lacked basic sanitation services at their school.

WHO estimates that every $1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of US $4 in saved medical costs, averted deaths and increased productivity. Hygiene promotion is also ranked as one of the most cost-effective public health interventions. Conversely, a lack of sanitation holds back economic growth.

 

How is the UN contributing to ending open defecation?

Member States and UN agencies are committed to ending open defecation and have urged the provision of financial resources, capacity-building and technology transfer to help developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), on clean water and sanitation, requires access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and an end to open defecation, with special attention paid to the needs of women and girls, and those in vulnerable situations.

Increasingly, governments and their UN agency partners have roadmaps to tackle the issue, and WSSCC has been providing grants for community-based solutions for a decade. However, the SDG target is not on track.

It’s estimated that the global annual cost for providing even basic sanitation services is   $19.5 billion, but right now not enough funding is forthcoming. The UN Sustainable Development Goals Report in 2019 warns that while progress is being made in many SDG areas, the collective global response is not enough, leaving the most vulnerable people and countries to suffer the most.

This story was originally published by UN News

Bringing Silicon Valley to Kathmandu Valley

For those who think that Nepal is too underdeveloped to make full use of artificial intelligence (AI), think again. That is exactly what they used to say about computers and mobile phones in the 1990s.

Credit: MONIKA DEUPALA/SONIA AWALE

By Sonia Awale
KATHMANDU, Nov 18 2019 – For those who think that Nepal is too underdeveloped to make full use of artificial intelligence (AI), think again. That is exactly what they used to say about computers and mobile phones in the 1990s.

It may come as a surprise to many that Nepal has been gaining ground in AI, developing not only software using machine learning algorithms but producing world-class engineers. One company at the forefront is Fusemachines Nepal, which has started using industry experts to train AI students with cutting-edge technology to deliver intelligent solutions.

“I wanted to see if I can contribute in bringing the best AI education to Nepal and make Nepal known around the world as one of the best sources of AI talent,” says the Nepali founder of Fusemachines, Sameer Maskey, a professor at Columbia University.

This is the age of surveillance capitalism, where algorithms determine election outcomes, Siri knows what you want before you do, wearables correctly deduce the state of the heart and Facebook recognises friends.

 

 

AI simply imitates human thinking by recognising patterns in data, so that repetitive everyday work can be done by machines that learn as they go along.

Coming to terms with AI

Artificial Intelligence: Ability of computer systems or machines to make a decision like humans, or the ability to perform tasks requiring human intelligence

Machine Learning: A subset of artificial intelligence that provides a system with the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed, relying on patterns generated from data

Deep Learning: Machine learning that is applied on a large set of data, also known as deep neural learning that uses deep neural networks to model complicated data

Natural Language Processing: Interaction between computers and human languages, deals with programming computers to process and analyse natural (human) language, this field of AI processes, analyses, interprets and distills information from human languages

Computer Vision: Enables computers to see, identify and process images in the same way that human vision does

Image Processing: Part of computer vision that entails analysis and manipulation to find insights from a digitised image

Big Data: Extremely large data sets on which AI is applied to reveal patterns, trends and associations and make decisions

Nepal missed the bus on natural resource processing, manufacturing and information technology. But experts say that training a critical mass of engineers in AI can allow the country’s economy to leapfrog and become globally competitive.

Fusemachines Director of Academic Affairs Bülent Uyaniker, who was in Nepal recently, rejects the notion that Nepal is not ready for artificial intelligence applications. “It is happening already, it is inevitable. If there can be 8.5 million Facebook users in Nepal, then it has the special conditions for AI.”

Proof of this is the increasing number of software companies in Nepal using local engineering talent to work on software solutions for customers in North America or Europe. However, most of the engineers and recent graduates need training in AI to keep up with customer requirements. America alone will need 200,000 data scientists in the next five years, and most of these will come from the UK, Finland, Canada, Singapore, China and India.

Which is why Fusemachines Nepal is also emphasising education. Says the head of its global operations and strategy, Sumana Shrestha: “You cannot learn AI in a one-day bootcamp, it needs intelligent mathematics, but there is a huge demand versus supply gap for engineers proficient in machine learning or other AI components everywhere.”

Nepal established itself as a sought after destination in the past 20 years for outsourcing services such as software and app development, website design and big data management to overseas clients, mostly due to the country’s inexpensive English-speaking workforce.

This move from IT to AI will not just create jobs in Nepal, but also allow the country to increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace. General practitioners in rural hospitals will be able to make diagnoses faster so they can spend more time with patients, high-risk individuals can be identified with cancer screening, and targeted advertising and customised itineraries will lure potential tourists during Visit Nepal 2020.

Recently, a group of engineering students developed a model to help poultry entrepreneurs understand fowl behaviour and the state of their animals’ health, helping them to raise the farm’s business profile.

“With precision livestock farming we can generate patterns to help farmers recognise symptoms before an outbreak of a disease by implementing AI components such as image processing and deep learning,” explained engineering student Sajil Awale at Pulchok Engineering Campus. “This allows for timely intervention to prevent mass deaths and reduce losses.”

Computer vision (which enables computers to see and process images as humans would) can also help identify rotten fruit swiftly, and prevent misuse of pesticides by identifying areas on the farm that require chemicals, and the amounts needed. AI can also estimate future harvests, allowing farmers time to find markets for produce.

Engineers at Fusemachines Nepal are working on Nepal’s first optical character recognition (OCR) system so forms filled out with Nepali handwriting can be digitised and translated into English. This will have huge scope in Nepal’s banking, hospital and government sectors, where pen and paper continues to be the norm.

Sixit Bhatta, CEO of ride-sharing startup Tootle, says Nepal is ripe for AI applications: “Our efforts now should be on preparing for a world in which machines perform skills-oriented tasks and for humans to take on the roles that require creativity and empathy. But before that, the government should design policies that allow AI to grow, and not restrict it.”

Sumana Shrestha at Fusemachines Nepal says that as long as salaries for clerical staff are low, there is less potential for AI to flourish. But she adds: “The curse of cheap labour means companies will prefer to employ people to do repetitive work. But sooner or later, AI will be here. Nepal needs to develop despite government. And the private sector needs to prepare itself for disruption.”

This story was originally published by The Nepali Times

The Ocean in Us: Ocean Action for Climate Ambition

The Ocean at sunset seen from SPC headquarters in Noumea. Credit: Cameron Diver

By Cameron Diver
NOUMEA, New Caledonia, Nov 18 2019 – In just under a month, countries around the world will gather for UNFCCC COP 25. The hashtag for this year’s “Blue COP” is yet another reminder to us all that it is “Time For Action”. We can no longer afford to wait as the effects of the climate crisis become ever more present. Vulnerable populations, whether from Small Island States, the rural heartland or the world’s megacities, are becoming ever more vulnerable, and the wellbeing of people and planet continues to face its most existential threat.

At the Pacific Community (SPC), we are confronted every day by the striking dichotomy between the extreme vulnerability of our small island/large ocean Member States and the remarkable resilience and climate ambition of their peoples. We are also challenged by a new reality: under the effects of climate change, the islands and peoples of the Blue Pacific continent are both sustained and threatened by the ocean.

Responding to this reality, in 2018 Pacific Leaders adopted an expanded definition of human security to include the implications of climate change and environmental degradation, and, in the 2019 Kainaki II Declaration, they called for “urgent, transformational global climate change action” to limit global warming to 1.5°C, transition out of fossil fuels, achieve net zero carbon by 2050, increase global climate finance and invest in science-based initiatives to improve our collective understanding of risk and vulnerability, while providing a robust evidence-base for informed policy making. The Kainaki II Declaration is also a milestone in its express recognition of the ocean-climate nexus and its appeal to “all parties attending COP 25 to welcome the focus on oceans, consider developing a work programme on oceans within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process and convene a workshop on the climate-ocean nexus in 2020”.

Cameron Diver

But it is not only for the island Nations of the Pacific that the nexus between climate change and our ocean is critical. It is just as vital for other Small Island Developing States and, whether they realise it or not, for countries and peoples around the globe, from the coastline to the highest mountains and the farthest reaches of the planet’s great continental landmasses. The recent IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) highlighted that “It is virtually certain that the global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and has taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system” with observed negative impacts on ecosystems, people and ecosystem services. The SROCC underscored the risks this creates for, among others, biodiversity, water use and access, vulnerability to extreme weather events, changes in the distribution of natural resources and “intrinsic values important for human identity”.

In this context, where ocean change is driven by climate change and each, in turn, compounds the negative impact of the other, we cannot ignore the science and we should not ignore the crosscutting benefits of combined ocean/climate action. And SPC is already bringing its capacity and partnerships to bear to take action.

As a partner of the Because the Ocean Initiative and the Ocean Pathway Partnership, SPC supported the third regional workshop on the integration of the ocean into NDCs under the Paris Agreement, together with a special ocean-climate negotiators symposium in May 2019. Over past years, SPC’s teams have implemented significant programmes of work on the restoration of ecosystem services and adaptation to climate change, contributed to the Pacific Marine Climate Change Report Card, led and published research on the vulnerability of tropical Pacific fisheries and aquaculture to climate change and, with our partners, developed projections for the future geographic distribution of tuna stocks under the effects of a warming ocean. And through platforms such as the Pacific Community Centre for Ocean Science (PCCOS), we will convene partnerships, facilitate knowledge exchange and action to strengthen the collaborative contribution ocean science can bring to climate action, as one of our key initiatives under the upcoming United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

A view of Majuro, Marshall Islands. Credit: Cameron Diver

From 2 to 13 December in Madrid, under the incoming Chilean presidency, SPC fully intends to leverage the opportunity provided by the “Blue COP” and mobilise its partnerships to highlight the powerful synergies between ocean action and climate action. We will be convening several events presenting a Pacific perspective on the SROCC, highlighting the impact of climate change on maritime boundaries, emphasising the contribution of ocean science for climate action and outlining a 2030-2050 vision for resilient, green and clean ports in the Pacific islands region. At SPC, we are convinced that to deliver on the promise of the Paris Agreement, we need a healthy and sustainably managed ocean. As such, we are also working actively with our Member States and partners like the Green Climate Fund, the European Union, the Agence Française de Développement and others to integrate the ocean into projects that will strengthen action for climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience in the Pacific.

The celebrated Pacific author Epeli Hau’ofa wrote “the sea is our pathway to each other and to everyone else, the sea is our endless saga, the sea is our most powerful metaphor, the ocean is in us”. That eloquent statement of a fundamental ocean identity comes from the heart of Oceania, from the strength of the cultures and traditions of the Blue Pacific. Imagine how powerful it would be if we collectively harnessed “the ocean in us” as a driving force for increased climate ambition and enhanced climate action. COP 25 is our chance to do just that! It is our chance to ensure the ocean is recognised as part of the climate solution. And it is our chance to embed the nexus between climate change and the ocean into our thinking, our cooperation and, above all, our action.