The time is right for the landmark move of creating a Pacific science academy, said one of New Zealand’s leading scholars.
Professor Sir Collin Tukuitonga of Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, led the initiative on behalf of the International Science Council, with more than 60 scholars, joining forces in Apia this week, to create a voice for science in the Pacific.
“There is a time and a place for everything, and I think the time for an Academy in the region is now,” Sir Collin said.
“It will unite Pacific scholars, foster collaboration within the community and outside, and promote research on and from the region,” he said.
There is currently no mechanism for the knowledge of Pacific scholars to be gathered and used to inform decision-making regionally and internationally, even though the Pacific region stands to be most impacted by the rapidly changing environment.
Local scientists and indigenous communities possess unique knowledge about their regions and inhabitants.
The establishment of a Pacific Academy responds to a pressing need to foster co-creation of knowledge and to empower Pacific scholars to be part of solutions in their region.
In a speech of the Prime Minister of Samoa, Fiame Naomi Mataʻafa (delivered by Aeau Christopher Hazelman, CEO, Ministry of Education & Culture), she said “The establishment of a Pacific Academy of Sciences and Humanities will be a global testament and a commitment by the Pacific region to promote sustainable development through scholarly activities providing interdisciplinary approaches to complex problems, offering scientific advice to governments as well as informing public policy for the benefit of our communities”.
The two days of discussions also included the African Academy of Sciences, Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society Te Aparangi (NZ) and U.S. National Academies.
Emerging researchers welcomed the opportunity for more multidisciplinary local and global collaborations to build regional capability and to create opportunities to advance their research.
Meeting participants agreed to set up an Establishment Group to lead the next steps in designing a Pacific academy that represents Pacific scholars and their knowledge.
The landmark meeting of Pacific scholars to discuss the codesign for a united Pacific academy of science and humanities was facilitated by the International Science Council and its regional office, the ISC Regional Focal Point for Asia and the Pacific. It was hosted by National University of Samoa, with funding support from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and the Richard Lounsberry Foundation.