Samoa is this week hosting a two-day Dialogue on Science and Science Policy for the Sustainable Development Goals in the Pacific S.I.D.S.
Held at Hotel Tanoa Tusitala, the meeting is organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (U.N.E.S.C.O.) and International Network for Government Science Advice (I.N.G.S.A.).
The Forum hopes to bridge the gaps between science, technology and innovation systems and policy makers in the Pacific with a focus on the framework of the S.D.G’s and the U.N.E.S.C.O’s S.I.D.S. Action Plan.
Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi opened the meeting.
“The workshop is exercise for us given the facts that Samoa is struggling to bridge the gaps that it implicates of Science, Technology, Innovation and Public Policy.”
Prime Minister Tuila’epa said this is a call for small islands development because its outcome will be shared in the region.
“It is a fact that it is a must for all small islands developing scopes, Samoa included, to consult their Science Technology and Regulation Policy and Science Advice that we are to achieve Sustainable Development.”
Representatives of different countries conducted presentations and shared their experiences about practices and initiatives in the region, for instance the S.T.I. policy initiatives in Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and others.
Chief Executive Officer for Ministry of Sports, Education and Culture, Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Fuata’i said the Forum is good for Samoa because representatives from different countries are participating to discuss the framework for Science Technology and Innovation for the small islands of the Pacific.
“Not only that but four ministers of the Pacific are also participating in this meeting, Minister from Tonga, Minister from Nauru, and Minister from Fiji and Minister of Vanuatu.
“Our Minister has also participated and representatives from different government ministries such as M.N.R.E., S.R.O.S. and N.U.S.
“The significance of this is that most countries in the world are after the achievement of the S.D.G goals and framework that includes the environment, education and climate change.
“Traditional knowledge and our traditional practices of maintaining the balances in the environment would not be enacted or made important if we don’t mention anything at the general level (this is the highest level of decision making).
“It provides a guide of things that need to be achieved but putting entries in the matrix or placeholders in the map, you need to be using and thinking about our ways of doing things otherwise it becomes another imported western roadmap but we need to contextualize it to suit our small island nation.
“Science is understood by the western world but then if you innovate the practice and conduct of Science, you can bring in your cultural practices and your traditional knowledge to make it more meaningful to the Pacific Islands students and make them more engaging and active participants of Science Learning because that is the problem, Science is too divorced from the real life and environment so we need to bridge the gaps.
“And that is what this dialogue is about, it’s really about bridging the gaps between the international S.D.G. goals and framework and how we can take those and contextualize to the small island nation context so that we are able to deliver because once we set the equivalent of the S.D.G. international K.P.I. to be small island nations K.P.I., then they need to be achievable and part of this dialogue is to share from what we have from the small island nations and collaboratively work out a way in which we can move forward and achieve as a region.
Afamasaga added: “Our goal here is to create a framework so that it can lead us to Science Technology and Innovation in the Pacific and with that it can actually help us initiate a Science Technology and Innovation for Samoa.
“It is difficult to achieve these goals but that is why we are here today together with other representatives from our country to discuss this through with representatives from other Pacific islands that has knowledge and experience about this so that we are able to build a framework to make a start for our country in developing Science Technology and Innovation.”
Dr. Muagututi’a Ioana Chan Mow, representative from the National University of Samoa, added that Pace Net Plus is a big part to also discuss in this forum.
“Pace Net Plus, are the projects that it takes six years to complete.
“There are sixteen members for these projects and the purpose of these projects is prioritizing and signifying Science Technology and Innovation in the Pacific region as well as discussing it between Europe and the Pacific.
“These projects for S.T.I. are the strategies that can overcome many of the problems that the Pacific region is facing.”