Strong commitment for science as a pillar of sustainable development in Pacific Island States

It is a must for all small islands, Samoa included, to consolidate science technology and innovation policy, and science advice, if we are to achieve sustainable development,” said the Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi, during the first Dialogue on Science and Science Policy for the Sustainable Development Goals in the Pacific Small Island Developing States. The high-level dialogue was organized in Apia, Samoa, to assess the needs and opportunities for bridging the gaps between science, technology and innovation (STI) systems and policy-makers. The Apia Ministerial Communiqué on Pacific Science, Technology and Innovation, which summarizes the outcomes of the high-level ministerial meeting, was released today.

Highlighting the importance of STI as a main pillar, an enabler and a driver to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Natural Sciences, Flavia Schlegel, explained that “STI has the potential and the power to address major challenges such as degradation and environmental restoration; adaptation to climate change, disaster risk reduction and minimizing loss and damage; challenges such as existing and emerging diseases; youth unemployment, economic instability and social inequities”.

The significant impact of climate change on small islands in the Pacific can only be understood and addressed through science policy making” agreed Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi. “Science, technology, and innovation are effective tools to build our cities through natural hazards and risks.”

The ministers who participated in the Dialogue have pledged to support the development of a relevant STI framework and national policies that address issues in science education, science advice, traditional scientific knowledge systems and capacities in all STI areas. They attempted to identify the best ways to take forward the dialogue towards action in future for the realization of the SDGs and simultaneously strengthen the dialogue within and outside the Pacific SIDS.

Through Apia Ministerial Communiqué, the Ministers call on UNESCO to facilitate the development of a comprehensive roadmap for STI policy and capacity in Pacific Island States, to collaborate with the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) and the International Network on Government Science Advice (INGSA) and to support the Pacific SIDS in developing and implementing appropriate policies. The Apia Ministerial Communiqué was signed by the Education Ministers of Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

The Dialogue was organized by the UNESCO and INGSA, with support from the Government of New Zealand and in collaboration with the Government of Samoa on 29-30 March in Apia, Samoa. It brought together policymakers and researchers from Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, as well as officials from the Pacific Community (SPC), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the University of the South Pacific (USP).

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