The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, closed the “Dialogue on Science and Science Policy for the S.D.Gs in the Pacific S.I.D.S” on Thursday.
Held at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, the meeting opened by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was organised by U.N.E.S.C.O, the International Network for Government Science Advice (I.N.G.S.A), Samoa’s National Commission for U.N.E.S.C.O, the National University of Samoa, the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa, with the support of the government of New Zealand.
Minister Loau joined Ministers of Education from Fiji, Nauru, Tonga and Vanuatu in the dialogue. Senior government representatives from Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea (P.N.G), Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu also took part.
Additional substantive inputs came from representatives from Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) institutions in Samoa, regional organizations such as Secretariat of the Pacific Community (S.P.C) and the University of the South Pacific.
The dialogue was facilitated by I.N.G.S.A and UNESCO.
The two-day dialogue allowed for sharing various approaches taken by Pacific Island Countries in how their ST&I systems, policies and priorities are organised.
Representatives from P.N.G and Tonga shared in depth studies of their ST&I Policy experience, initiating lively discussions on how to learn from those practices as well as escalating them to the regional level.
The Sustainable Development Goals (S.D.Gs) proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, provide a unique opportunity for all countries, particularly the Pacific Small Island Development States (S.I.D.S), as was highlighted by Dr. Flavia Schlegel, U.N.E.S.C.O Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences.
ST&I are an integral part of the means of implementation of the S.D.Gs, and as such are a priority for all Member States.
The programme highlighted the I.N.G.S.A’s experiences that bridging the gaps between ST&I systems and policy-makers is an urgent strategy to attain the S.D.Gs. Sir Peter Gluckman, the Chairperson of I.N.G.S.A also facilitated a session on Science Advice.
The SPC as represented by their Secretary General Dr. Colin Tukuitonga and researchers who are part of the PaceNet+ consortium discussed ST&I b in terms of policies and advice to policy-making, as well as which mechanisms and policies, national and regional, could be put in place or updated.
One of the main outcomes of the meeting has been the Apia Ministerial Communiqué on Pacific ST& I, where the Ministers present committed to developing ST&I policies in their countries, aimed at areas such as enhancing Science Technology Education and Mathematics (S.T.E.M) education, establishing science advice mechanisms, indigenous knowledge systems, and building capacity in ST&I policy areas and research.
The Apia Ministerial Communiqué also requested U.N.E.S.C.O to facilitate the development and implementation of a comprehensive Roadmap for ST&I Policy and Capacities for the Pacific Island States, in cooperation with the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (C.R.O.P.) and other partner organizations, such as INGSA, while encouraging all Pacific Island States to join the initiatives resulting from this Dialogue, and ensure the organization of periodical Regional Dialogue meetings.
The Ministers present commended U.N.E.S.C.O’s support and the initiative taken to convene this Dialogue, which constitutes the launching of a regional process towards enhancing the ST&I capacities of Pacific Island Countries towards attaining the S.D.Gs.