Participants of the 2nd Geoscience Steering Group Committee in Nadi

16 April 2015
Nadi, Fiji- To overcome common challenges in maintaining and developing new skills in core geological functions, representatives of 18 Pacific Community members have been meeting in Fiji this week.

Convened by the Pacific Community (SPC), a three-day meeting of thePacific regional Geoscience Steering Group ends in Nadi today.

Geological data and expertise serve important roles such as generating wealth and employment, extending energy opportunities for rural populations, reducing dependence on imported oil, and addressing key issues such as environment, infrastructure development, transport, risk and geohazard assessment, urbanisation and quality of life.

Built up over many years, there is significant capability in several Pacific Island countries in terms of trained expertise and data such as geological maps, databases, reports, studies, and rock, mineral and fossil collections.

However, the Geoscience Steering Group is concerned that loss of national geoscience capabilities within the Pacific region could lead to reliance on external expertise.

Furthermore, this lack of capacity could deny Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) with sound expert geological advice that decision makers should be getting for informed decision making.

The Steering Group wants to raise the profile of applied geoscience as a key tool for sustainable development, and awareness of the contribution of geoscience to development across the Pacific region.

This initiative is targeting policy and decision makers as well as development partners.

Another aim of the Steering Group is to develop a strong network of national, regional and international geoscience professionals and share relevant information.

SPC’s Geoscience Division initiated the Steering Group last year, recognising that geological data and expertise are essential to address many development challenges of the Pacific.

This initiative is part of SPC’s effort in collaboration with member countries and development partners to contribute to sustainable development in the Pacific region.

The Pacific Island countries and territories participating in the meeting this week are Fiji, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Timor Leste, Vanuatu, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu.

Advisers from Australia, New Zealand and United States of America, as well as SPC, are also taking part in the meeting.

The group organised its first meeting last year, bringing together targeted practitioners from eight Pacific nations and SPC to discuss which aspects of geoscience the region should focus on and how to continue building capabilities.