Bombardier Announces Closing Date, Amended Terms for Sale of Aerostructures Business to Spirit AeroSystems Holding, Inc.

  • All closing conditions have been met and the parties have agreed on an October 30, 2020 closing date
  • Total transaction valued at ~ $1.2 billion1; cash proceeds now expected to be $275 million
  • Sale supports Bombardier's repositioning as a pure–play business jet company and further strengthens liquidity

All amounts in this press release are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise indicated.

MONTREAL, Oct. 26, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Bombardier (TSX: BBD.B) announced today it has entered into an amended definitive agreement to sell its aerostructures business to Spirit AeroSystems Holding, Inc. (Spirit), supporting Bombardier's strategic decision to reposition itself as a pure–play business aircraft company. This transaction is set to close on October 30, 2020 as all closing conditions have been met.

Under the amended agreement, Spirit will acquire Bombardier's aerostructures activities and aftermarket services operations in Belfast, U.K.; Casablanca, Morocco; and its aerostructures maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Dallas, U.S. for cash consideration of $275 million, Spirit's assumption of liabilities, including government refundable advances and pension obligations, valued at $824 million, as well as certain adjustments to the parties' trading agreements favourable to Bombardier.

"Today's announcement marks another milestone towards achieving our strategic goal of repositioning Bombardier as a pure–play business jet company," said ric Martel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier Inc. "We are very excited about our future as a more focused Company. The proceeds from this transaction and from the pending sale of Bombardier Transportation strengthen our liquidity and position us to begin reshaping our capital structure and address our balance sheet challenges so that we can achieve the full potential of our incredibly talented employees and our industry leading business jet portfolio."

About Bombardier
With nearly 60,000 employees across two business segments, Bombardier is a global leader in the transportation industry, creating innovative and game–changing planes and trains. Our products and services provide world–class transportation experiences that set new standards in passenger comfort, energy efficiency, reliability and safety.

Headquartered in Montral, Canada, Bombardier has production and engineering sites in over 25 countries across the segments of Aviation and Transportation. Bombardier shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). In the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, Bombardier posted revenues of $15.8 billion. News and information are available at bombardier.com or follow us on Twitter @Bombardier.

1. Transaction value is based on expected proceeds of $275 million and including Bombardier's IFRS carrying values as at September 30, 2020 of the transferred liabilities.

Bombardier is a trademark of Bombardier Inc. and its subsidiaries.

For Information
Jessica McDonald
Advisor, Media Relations and Public Affairs
Bombardier Inc.
+1 514 262 7255

Patrick Ghoche
Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Investor Relations
Bombardier Inc.
+514 861 5727

Reaching Remote Women Through Inclusive Technology

Reaching remote communities. Credit: UnSplash / Ashwini C.

By Fairuz Ahmed
NEW YORK, Oct 26 2020 – The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the way people value working from home, career building, and their overall approach to utilising downtime.

It has blurred out the lines between hobby, casual reading, and how time is spent away from work.

Despite a myriad of negative impacts, it has opened doors to career reboots and gaining skills for people who otherwise would have been left out.

COVID19 has made work from home the ‘new normal’, and around the globe, people are adapting to a life where a significant portion is spent online.

About two-thirds of businesses that have adopted remote work policies and plan to keep at least some of those policies in place long-term or permanently.

Research published in Business Insider in June 2020 stated that about 67% of companies polled in and work from home is expected to be permanent or long-lasting.

The report also noted that where offices that do remain will probably shrink: 47% of respondents said their organisations were likely to reduce their physical office footprint.

While this creates opportunities online, rural and poor communities, the technology gap exists could be locked out.

Companies that were already working in the career growth sector like Udemy and Coursera have gained incredible traction and growth during the pandemic.

The San Francisco-based company, Udemy.co which one of the prominent platforms in the “massively open online course” (MOOC) movement, released its data highlights that it saw a more than 400% spike in course enrolments for individuals between February and March.

Business and government use increased by 80%, while instructors created 55% more new courses.

Coursera Blog mentions similar proceedings as well. They have already activated more than 220 programs for governments across 70+ countries and 25 US states, and these programs have benefited more than 200,000 learners.

Another similar platform, Fuzia also delivers value-added methods to boost and empower creative women through the fusion of cultures and ideas.

Creating inclusive technology. Credit: UnSplash / Pongsawat P.

They are working to provide people from all walks of life a means to gain essential knowledge to ramp up their careers and find new alternatives to traditional options.

Anyone with access to the internet can have access to training facilities for free from this platform. Besides career development training, this platform also helps with hobby building, turn a passion into a side business, and entrepreneurs to launch their dream initiatives.

A teacher, artist, and calligrapher Fuziaite, Ravleen Kaur from Delhi, India, who participated during the lockdown comments: “Fuzia is a significant platform in my life. It helped me in promoting my work. Being the winner, in one of the contests, is a dream come true.”

Due to the switch to internet-based education, business and work, a study carried out by Statista on Digital users Worldwide shows that almost 4.57 billion people were active internet users as of July 2020, encompassing 59 percent of the global population.

In the case of Fuzia, users come from South Asian countries. For example, in India alone, there are over 560 million internet users. India is the second-largest online market in the world, ranked only behind China. It is estimated that by 2023, there would be over 650 million internet users in the country.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimated that about 60% of Indian internet users viewed vernacular content, and only about a quarter of internet users were over the age of 35 years in 2019.

The WEF also estimated that 1.1 billion Indians would have access to the internet by 2030, with 80% of the subscriber base primarily accessing the internet on mobile devices. The profile of India’s internet user base was predicted to diversify by 2030 with 80% of users accessing vernacular content and with users over 25 years, making up 45% of the total subscriber base.

Fuzia (https://www.fuzia.com), a platform founded by Riya Sinha and Shraddha Varma, has created a space where users can network, have a conversation, share their creativity, find work opportunities and study online provides a safe space for their community.

They ensure that profanity and hate speech is eliminated and so the engagement, which includes pre-teens to seniors, is affirming and positive.

They too provide an opportunity for people wishing to develop skills in various ways. Their English courses are popular, including short courses on spoken English, 70 common English phrases, daily vocabulary, common mistakes, and ways to improve with online English courses. All are fully supported by video content.

Those who do the courses find it fun and engaging. Sanna Sher (21) from Pakistan who is a native Urdu speaker, living in the United States comments that: “Learning to speak English confidently and fluently has been my goal for a long time. I found Fuzia, and this has made my learning much easier. The video clips and instructions are easy to understand, and I can access these anytime I wish, from the comfort of my home.”

There are speakers from various nations and various dialects who use the Fuzia platform. Under the discussion topics and threads, the users also help each other with tips to learn a lesson well.

The courses are also supported by video clips, provided by trained teachers and instructors.

“I was hesitant and worried that I might be judged for not understanding English well. But I see that there are many, in similar situations like me. This has given me the courage to reach out for help and engage in discussion. During COVID19 lockdown, I have made multiple friends, and together with Fuzia, we have learned to speak better,” Sher says.

As the majority of users use mobile phones the content has been designed to be short and practical. In fact, a mobile phone with a basic connection and a pair of headphones is enough to study, work, or learn from any location even while travelling, working at home, or carrying on with daily activities.

They have teamed up with industry leaders to provide free, state-of-the-art courses including practical skills like writing and others which can assist with societal issues like identifying and managing domestic abuse and violence, LGBTQI issues and others.

 


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Not in Our Name, Never in Our Name: A Conversation with Muslim Faith Leaders Echoing the Wisdom of a Pontiff

UN Secretary-General António Guterres meets religious leaders April 2020 at Gurdwara Kartapur Sahib in Punjab province in Pakistan. Religious leaders of all faiths are being urged by the Secretary-General to join forces and work for peace around the world and focus on the common battle to defeat COVID-19. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

By Professor Azza Karam
NEW YORK, Oct 26 2020 – As the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb said on October 20: “As a Muslim and being the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, I declare before Almighty God that I disassociate myself, the rulings of the religion of Islam, and the teachings of the Prophet of Mercy, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), from such heinous terrorist act and from whoever would embrace such deviant, false thought.

At the same time, I reiterate that insulting religions and abusing sacred religious symbols under the slogan of the freedom of expression, are forms of intellectual terrorism and a blatant call for hatred. Such a terrorist and his likes do not represent the true religion of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Likewise, the terrorist of New Zealand, who killed the Muslims while praying in the mosque, does not represent the religion of Jesus, peace be upon him. Indeed, all religions prohibit the killing of innocent lives”

The above words of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif — Sunni Islam’s intellectual headquarters, long standing knowledge base and one of its political epicenters — were shared at an ongoing conference hosted by the St Egidio Community, entitled “No One is Saved Alone Peace and Fraternity”.

In turn, these words were read out at this meeting, by Judge Mohammed Abdel Salam, the first Muslim to ever present a Papal Encyclical (in October 2020), and the first Muslim ever to be decorated as Commander with a star medal (Commenda con Placca dell’ordine Piano), by the Pope, for his great role and efforts in promoting interreligious dialogue and the relationships between Al-Azhar and the Catholic Church (in March 2019).

Judge Mohammed Abdel Salam is the Secretary General of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, and represents the Grand Imam on the World Council (governing board) of Religions for Peace, a 50 year-old multi-religious organization representing all the world’s religious institutions and faith communities – in effect, a “UN of religions”.

And yet these words seem to have to be repeated again and again. Many Muslims live in fear that each and every day’s news potentially bears yet another heinous act of violence whose mad perpetrator(s) claim(s) is done for or inspired by “Islam”.

Many Muslims still hear two comments again and again from within the western hemisphere: “where is the condemnation?”, and even more insidiously, an assertion that “there must be something in the religion that makes these repeated acts of violence …possible”.

Some western government-sanctioned narratives go so far as to describe “Islamic extremism”, further compounding a sense of victimisation by many Muslims, and adding to the ‘spin’ that the religion itself is capable of extremism.

No religion is itself intrinsically capable of anything. People live religion. In his latest Encyclical “Fratelli Tutti”( in Chapter 8 “religion and fraternity”), the Pontiff focuses on “Religions at the service of fraternity in our world” and emphasizes that terrorism is not due to religion but to erroneous interpretations of religious texts, as well as “policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression” (paragraphs 282-283).

The Encyclical maintains that a journey of peace among religions is possible and that it is therefore necessary to guarantee religious freedom, a fundamental human right for all believers (paragraph 279).

Muslims – leaders, laypeople, communities, and multiple institutions – have condemned, continue to condemn and will always condemn violence in the name of their faith.

Imam Sayyed Razawi, the Secretary General of the Scottish Ahl al-Bayt Society, and a Trustee of Religions for Peace, notes that “since Islam does not teach harming others, a question that arises is what was the motivation of an individual who had a claim to being Muslim, to violate the parameters of the laws of his faith and country in committing such an act?

There is no doubt Muslims, be they in France or across the world, hurt, when their Prophet is seemingly insulted. However, it does not justify breaking the very principles laid down in Islam to prevent such acts”.

Both Judge Abdel Salam and Imam Razawi, are of similar age. The former, living in the Arab world, the latter, living in the West. Both are Muslim leaders, and both are well versed in Islamic Jurisprudence, and learned about Islamic traditions. Both continue to iterate, in multiple speeches, conferences and contexts, that what inspires them, is to serve humanity.

Imam Sayed Razawi continues to note that serving humanity leads us down a pathway which has various labels, though amounting to roughly the same thing: interfaith, inter religious dialogue, and/or multi faith collaboration. The ultimate aim and purpose have always been, and remains, how best to live harmoniously with others.

For both these Muslim leaders, and millions of other Muslims, the inspiration to maintain that such atrocities are not in our name, comes from the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). A man who even before prophecy was working with peoples of various faiths and backgrounds. A merchant, whose employer was a woman – later to become his wife when she proposed to him- and who believed passionately in being truthful and trustworthy.

“So much so” Razawi maintains, “that Jews, Christians, and pagans alike would entrust him with that which they held valuable to themselves, with the belief it would be safe. As a Prophet, Muhammad developed a city where Muslims lived side by side with Jews, Christians, Sabians and pagans. These lessons lead to the formation of a civilisation on the very same principles: coexistence and peace.”

Both the Imam and the Judge speak of their hurt when evil acts such as what has been witnessed in Paris take place. Both maintain, again, alongside countless others, that “it is important to repeat and continue to repeat that these are not the teachings of Islam, nor its Prophet or the interpretations of core Islamic principles”.

These atrocities are against what they believe, what they live, and what they preach, which is: peaceful coexistence, reconciliation and obeying the laws of the land one lives in, not to mention the need to uphold virtues such as compassion, love and forgiveness.

Both maintain that acts of violence are not reflective of a religion whose leaders have categorically emphasised the need for “loving thy neighbour”, because, as Imam Razawi states “either a person is your brother in faith, or your equal in your humanity.”

So why would an act be committed which is contrary to the very faith the actor confesses to be?

This is the question secular policy-makers may not ask. Or perhaps they do ask behind closed doors in rooms bursting with indifference to religion and religious sentiments.

Or yet again, maybe this is a question asked by religious ‘technocrats’ (those working on religion in secular spaces) and/or secular bureaucrats keen on instrumentalizing religious sentiments for ‘national security’ concerns.

But this is the question that every faith leader asks – and asks repeatedly. The answers lie, again, in what the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”, calls for, which the Catholic Pontiff also concludes his Encyclical with: “we were made for love” (Paragraph 88), and love builds bridges.

But how can we build bridges with love? Religions for Peace has been doing this work through 96 national and regional Inter-Religious Councils, with representatives of all faith traditions, for five decades.

In 2019, 250 religious leaders committed to building these bridges with and through service to the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.

When Covid-19 hit, Religions for Peace set up a Multi-Religious Humanitarian Fund dedicated to supporting faith communities work to serve all, together. The religious leaders understood that there is no point to working to realise the SDGs, without a mechanism to collate and coordinate their efforts, geared towards serving social cohesion (in a world gone awry), within our new normal: humanitarian crisis.

Confronting Covid is an opportunity to work together across religious and institutional differences to build bridges of love. The humanitarian call is being heeded today like never before, by the first responders in crisis situations – i.e. religious institutions and NGOs. But few of these religious NGOs are actually collaborating, meaning jointly investing their resources, to serve together.

We can keep on having meetings to speak to building back better, and the uniqueness of faith (or business or civil society actors), and still face countless acts of violence (attributed to religion) from those whose sense of marginalization is intensifying.

We can choose to continue to serve our own organizational and territorial visibility and interests, while hundreds of thousands continue to die, and millions suffer, from a shared ecosystem of planetary degradation.

Or we can serve the multi-religious call – the multi-religious imperative – and actually pool our financial, human and spiritual resources together – to build bridges with love. The choice is ours.

 


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Q&A: Why are Stillbirths still Societal Taboo?

There are nearly two million stillbirths every year. Credit: UNSPLASH/Claudia Wolff

There are nearly two million stillbirths every year. Credit: UNSPLASH/Claudia Wolff

By Samira Sadeque
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 26 2020 – Societal taboo and a lack of understanding about stillbirth  can cause the issue to be neglected among health practitioners, according to Dr. Danzhen You, a senior adviser on Data and Analytics at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

She shared her insight with IPS after a U.N. high-level meeting organised to raise awareness and to end preventable stillbirths last week.

There are nearly two million stillbirths every year, according to a joint statement released ahead of the event by UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the World Bank Group and the Population Division of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

At the talk, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for an end to the stigma surrounding stillbirths and for higher investments to prevent them. In the last 20 years, he said, 14 countries, including Cambodia, India and Mongolia have been able to reduce their stillbirth rate by more than half.

But this growth regressed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With reference to the mothers who suffer from stillbirth, he said: “They need support, not shame.”

Christine Wangechi from Kenya, who suffered a stillbirth last year, said during her trauma, she was not aware that there are other women who had similar experiences.

She said her experience was very “silent” and that she hopes that in speaking publicly, she can help other grieving mothers feel less alone.

Istiyani Purbaabsari, a midwife from Indonesia who spoke at the event, also added that a lack of awareness may be impeding the progress on lowering stillbirths.

The stigma, combined with the lack of awareness or communication about the issue, means it remains left out of conversations, according to You of UNICEF, who is also the Coordinator of the U.N. Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.

Excerpts of the interview with You follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): According to UNICEF, the issue of stillbirths remains low as a priority on the global public health agenda. Why has it not been a priority in these conversations?

Dr. Danzhen You (DY): With two million babies stillborn every year, the burden of stillbirths is enormous. They are invisible in policies and programmes and under-financed as an area requiring intervention.

Most people (including some clinicians) do not have a common understanding of what a stillbirth is; definitions vary across and within countries and cultures. The death of an unborn baby remains a taboo topic in many cultures. Communications work has been insufficient in raising awareness among communities, health professionals, and policy makers about the burden of stillbirth, including numbers, preventability, and the pain and grief it causes to women and families

There is also a lack of understanding of stillbirths, leading to fatalism, guilt and blame. Many clinicians are not aware that most stillbirths are preventable with known interventions; many families and communities also do not realise this, meaning it is often the woman who is blamed or feels responsible for the loss.

IPS: How do the stigma and misconceptions surrounding stillbirth hamper the efforts to end stillbirths?

DY: Stillbirths are often regarded as inevitable events and may be grouped with miscarriages for reporting. In some cultures, stillbirths are perceived as the mother’s fault, resulting in public shaming or individual feelings of guilt or shame that prevent public mourning of their loss.

Moreover, the lack of opportunity to publicly grieve can cause stillbirths to be considered “non-events”. In some countries, stillbirths are perceived as rare, accounting for a negligible fraction of the burden of disease in countries or at global level.

These social taboos, stigmas and misconceptions often silence families or impact the recognition and grieving of stillbirths, contributing to their continuing invisibility.

IPS: How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the issue of stillbirths?

DY: The world is currently scrambling to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic might be leading to disruptions in health services. Our analysis shows that the response to the pandemic could worsen the situation by potentially adding nearly 200,000 stillbirths to the global tally over a 12-month period in 117 low and middle-income countries in a scenario with severe health service disruptions (around 50 percent) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This number may underestimate the additional stillbirth burden that could occur.

However, we were missing opportunities to prevent families from experiencing the pain of stillbirths even before the pandemic. Few women received timely and high-quality care to prevent stillbirths. In half of the 117 low and middle-income countries analysed, less than two to 50 percent of pregnant women received key interventions that could prevent stillbirths. For example, coverage for assisted vaginal delivery – a critical intervention for preventing intrapartum stillbirths – is estimated to reach less than half of pregnant women in low-and middle-income countries.

IPS: What are some challenges that remain with  gathering statistics on the issue?

DY: The targets specific to stillbirths were absent from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and are still missing in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Many countries do not have a defined stillbirth target. Among the 93 countries that have reported on their progress using the Every Newborn Action Plan tracking tool, only 30 have a defined stillbirth target, compared to 78 countries with a neonatal mortality target.

Stillbirths are largely absent in worldwide data tracking, rendering the true extent of the problem hidden. Sixty two countries had either no stillbirth data or insufficient quality data. While the causes of neonatal death are tracked globally by WHO, there are no such data for stillbirth.

IPS: What do you think is the way ahead?

DY: Progress is possible with sound policy, investment and programmes. For example, Southern Asia, which has the second highest stillbirth rate of all regions in the world, has reduced the stillbirth rate by 44 percent since 2000.

We must do better, faster, or 20 million babies will be stillborn by 2030. There is hope, but only if we act now, collectively, by raising voices, increasing awareness, reducing stigma, taboo and misconception.

The United Nations, 75 Years Young: Engaging Youth Social Entrepreneurs to Accelerate the SDGs

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
BANGKOK, Thailand, Oct 26 2020 – This year, the United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary – a milestone of extraordinary economic and social progress in Asia and the Pacific. While the Organization enjoys a lifespan almost equal to the world’s improved average life expectancy, the future lies with those who have recently embarked on theirs: our young people.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

As they continue breaking ground with entrepreneurial spirit to address defining issues of our time like climate change, technology and inequality, our investments in them will win the battle for sustainability.

Young entrepreneurs have been a source of innovation and economic dynamism, creating jobs and providing livelihoods to millions. To achieve and accelerate action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we urgently need their expertise and voices on creating solutions to social and environmental challenges, as well as economic opportunities.

Yet, they have needed no prompting: the social entrepreneurship movement has emerged in Asia and the Pacific in response to pressing issues, including COVID-19. Spearheaded by the region’s young people with a strong sense of social justice, social entrepreneurs are providing innovative, market-based solutions that break the mold of traditional models focused on economic growth. But we must do more to truly realize the transformative potential of young social entrepreneurs.

First, we need to ensure that the next generation of business leaders think about social purpose as well as profit. To achieve this, education will be critical. Governments play a key role, like the Government of Pakistan’s Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. The Centre’s mission is to support students and young entrepreneurs identify innovative business solutions to urgent problems related to the SDGs.

Second, we need to scale up innovative financing solutions. It is encouraging to see governments embracing impact investing as a policy tool to provide much-needed finance to young social entrepreneurs. As an example, ESCAP supported the Government of Malaysia to launch the Social Impact Exchange. The Exchange mirrors a traditional stock exchange and links social purpose organisations to impact investors.

ESCAP and its partner the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) are also supporting organizations like iFarmer in Bangladesh. The joint effort has supported iFarmer in creating a digital app to establish a profit-sharing model between urban investors and rural women farm entrepreneurs that involves the purchase and management of livestock. After successful livestock management (raising and selling cattle), the investor and woman entrepreneur share the profits, while iFarmer receives support through a management fee.

Third, as we are living in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digitally savvy young social entrepreneurs hold much promise. While Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies pose challenges to the economy – most notably relating to jobs and the future of work – they also have the potential to spur mass entrepreneurship and new ways of doing business. ESCAP is currently supporting FinTech start-ups like Aeloi Technologies to develop digital finance and green solutions for women entrepreneurs. Aeloi’s goal is to make impact funding for women microentrepreneurs accountable and accessible using digital tokens, providing an assured digital link between funders and carbon offset providers. They work specifically with the electric minibus sector in Kathmandu, Nepal. Their system helps ensure that each $1 of investment is used towards building renewable energy powered transportation by providing real-time climate and social impact tracking.

The United Nation’s 75th anniversary comes at the critical juncture of a new decade to accelerate the SDGs and recover from an unprecedented crisis. The need for innovative solutions and stronger cooperation across all stakeholders, particularly the youth, is clear.

In this context, the UN family’s anniversary event in Asia and the Pacific will bring together young social innovators and entrepreneurs from across the region whose ideas, platforms and businesses have made an impact. These innovators will discuss how technology and innovative solutions of today can be scaled up to build back better towards more inclusive, resilience and green economies and societies.

We stand ready to support these young people and their innovative solutions for tackling inequality and promoting inclusion, economic empowerment of women and girls and moving towards decarbonization and tackling air pollution. In many ways, it is they who are carrying the mantle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 


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Good data is the key to a sustainable post-COVID Pacific

By Stuart Minchin
Oct 26 2020 (IPS-Partners)

Good data and statistics make essential contributions to building resilient and strong democratic societies. Decisions based on empirical data rather than anecdote or opinion are the foundation for good policy and planning. A focus on science and evidence-based data has been the cornerstone of SPC’s work for over 70 years. And as our understanding of the complexities and interconnected nature of our world increases, the need for good data has become ever more critical.

To get a sense of the kind of positive impact good data can have on our region, look no further than the field of education. Despite the clear need, good quality data on education systems has not always been readily available in the Pacific. This gap has had significant implications for the development and monitoring of education throughout the region. To address this challenge, SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) has focused its efforts on re-developing and enhancing education management information systems.

This has been no small task. Our Pacific nations rich traditions and culture also mean that each approaches education in a slightly different way. And yet, for data to be meaningful it must be consistent and measurable against a common baseline.

A key strategy for EQAP, therefore, has been to assist Pacific Island countries and territories by supporting the coordination and development of their unique national education targets, while ensuring that national education databases can collect data on common themes in order to provide a more complete picture of the trends, struggles and opportunities for the region.

SPC puts a strong emphasis on the importance of partnerships and this publication is no exception to that tradition. The EQAP team has worked with stakeholders across the region to gather and sort the critical information it contains. However even the best regional data cannot be fully utilized unless it is widely used and shared, not only in the Pacific, but as a part of the global knowledge base of education data. EQAP, with the support of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), has therefore partnered with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) to ensure that Pacific educational data becomes part of the international conversation.

The culmination of all this work will come with the soon to be released, 2020 Status of Pacific Education Report that will allow Pacific nations to see their progress, find areas of common challenges and inspire innovative ways to reach both national and regional ambitions for education.

Data is about more than just numbers and statistics. Its’ collection, organisation and analysis provide insights and information, but it also inspires cooperation and better communication. These tools will be essential for the Pacific to reach its sustainable development goals, whether in geosciences, oceans, land resources, health or education.

Stuart Minchin

Stuart Minchin
Director-General
Before he joined the Pacific Community (SPC) on 23 January 2020, Dr Minchin previously served as Chief of the Environmental Geoscience Division of Geoscience Australia, a centre of expertise in the Australian Government for environmental earth science issues and the custodian of national environmental geoscience data, information and knowledge. He has represented Australia in key international forums and has been the Principal Delegate to both the UN Global Geospatial Information Management Group of Experts (UNGGIM) and the Intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO).