Event focuses on Pacific marine sector careers

The Australia Pacific Climate Alumni Network has successfully hosted an event in Samoa and Fiji last week to create more awareness around career opportunities in the Pacific islands’ marine sector.

The event, which is part of the Network’s Careers in an Ocean of Change, featured three separate panels comprising 11 panelists and event participants participating physically in hubs in Suva and Apia.

The Network hosted and facilitated the event in Suva while the Australian High Commission in Samoa co-hosted and co-facilitated the event in Apia. More than 130 registrations were received for the event from across the Pacific region.

The purpose of the event was to create more awareness around career opportunities available in the marine sector for professionals in the Pacific islands. The panel themes included careers focusing on oceanography, marine biology and conservation, and marine policy and law.

Nicollette Goulding, the Network facilitator, in her opening remarks during the event that it is important that they support the creation of such discussion spaces. 

“It is important to us as a network that we support the creation of discussion spaces such as this,” she said.

“Spaces that bring together Pacific professionals, aspiring and current students and other members of our community together to share and document information that we hope will be helpful in informing people's professional pathways across different sectors in the

climate and disaster resilience workforce in the region."

The same sentiments – in regards to creating a network of like-minded individuals who share a common passion,  a passion for helping to build capacity in the region – was shared by the keynote speakers and fellow panelists for each of the three panel sessions.

The event brought together aspiring and current marine and environment students, researchers, mid-career professionals working in marine and climate change related fields for government agencies, development organisations and research institutes; and community members passionate about protecting their environment. 

The panelists were from diverse backgrounds and brought different perspectives, experiences and highlighted different career pathways already available in the marine sector in the Pacific islands.

Dr Awnesh Singh, a physical oceanographer and University of the South Pacific (USP) senior lecturer who was the keynote speaker for the first panel on oceanography, spoke of the significance of networking and building capacity.

“It is very nice to see a rich diversity in the research interests of fellow panelists working as experts in the marine environment. This, in itself, shows the capacity we already have in the region,” he said.

“And there are many more professionals working in different areas of the marine environment. It is therefore important to establish a connection and network amongst all players in the same field to achieve the ultimate goal of building capacity in the region. 

“This link, firstly amongst experts, secondly with educational and research institutes and organizations, and thirdly, with the communities, is something that needs to be established, and further strengthened where it already exists. 

“Working in silos defeats the notion of Pacific regionalism, something that we need now more than ever in the context of climate change.”

Dr. Salome Taufa, a resource economist at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the keynote speaker for the third panel on marine policy and law, highlighted the significance of adding our cultural understanding in marine resources management. 

“This talanoa event provided an opportunity to talk about different careers that our marine sector can provide. The marine sector is quite vast, and you can have different careers in marine science, marine management, marine law and marine conservation,” she said.

“These are all very important to us because we are large ocean states and it is also important that as Pacific islanders, we add on our cultural understanding into the management of our marine resources because we understand more how we interact with our environment. 

“We also understand the importance of keeping a healthy environment because in return the environment will serve us. There are numerous opportunities available but we need more Pacific Islanders to increase their participation in research and education in this marine space.”

This event was made possible through the Network in collaboration with the Australian Awards Facility in Fiji and the Australian High Commission in Samoa.

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