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Protecting the Pacific through research

A wide-reaching network was established to promote dialogue and outline research priorities for the Pacific Ocean.

Climate Change and Environment

The awe-inspiring Pacific Ocean covers a third of the world's surface, reaching the shores of Asia, Australia and the Americas. It is an important driver of trade and aquaculture, and a barometer for climate change; thus, it is the subject of many research projects. To further such valuable research, the EU-funded 'Pacific - EU network for science and technology' (PACE-NET) project established a platform of dialogue between the EU and concerned nations. These include the 15 (mostly island) states of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP). The network outlined 15 science and technology priorities for the Pacific covering environmental, socio-political and economic concerns. Based on these themes, the project team developed an overview of the region's research landscape to help policymakers identify pressing research priorities. In 2011, the project organised a conference in Australia, attracting a host of participants from around the world. In 2012, it conducted the Pacific–European Stakeholder Conference in Belgium, focusing on key topics such as climate change mitigation, fisheries, natural hazards and policymaking. The year 2013 saw the conference taking place in Suva, Fiji. Several workshops were organised on topics such as health, biodiversity, environment, energy and climate change, leading to a series of reports on specific research priorities. The reports were successfully disseminated to concerned stakeholders, including European Commission officials. Another important part of the project has involved documenting barriers to participation in EU-funded projects, which should facilitate joint projects and enhance future collaboration efforts. Identified barriers include low success rate, high costs in preparing project proposals, finding the right partners and matching research interests with project calls. PACE-NET also offered training sessions for researchers to improve their access to EU funding programmes. The final output of the project was a project compendium titled 'Recommendations for a Strategic Plan for Research in S&T in the Pacific'. This joint global initiative has already helped stakeholders set priorities related to the precious Pacific. It will undoubtedly help upgrade several different aspects linked to the ocean, from commerce and transport to environment and disaster mitigation.

Keywords

Pacific Ocean, trade, aquaculture, science and technology

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