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Three years of EU-Pacific collaboration through PACE-Net Plus

Setting a science, technology and innovation agenda for addressing development challenges

April 20, 2017

Since 2013, experts in the EU and South Pacific have come together through the Pacific-Europe Network (PACE-Net Plus) project, a bi-regional platform to build cooperation in science, technology and innovation (ST&I). For three years, 16 partners, including CTA, brought big ideas and ambitions for strengthening EU-Pacific research cooperation to address global challenges such as food and nutrition security, climate change and health.

PACE-Net Plus was funded by the European Commission through 2016, and lives on in the continuing cooperation of dedicated partners. At the same time, a newly released Outcomes Compendium provides a look back at how much was accomplished, in a busy three years.

The work conducted during the three years had a core mandate: "build a bridge over Europe and the Pacific region for a better cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation". CTA and the 15 other partner institutions with support from an external advisory board overseen by Arnold Beuf, former European Commission Policy Officer, embarked on the ambitious journey to achieve the goal.

What did this partnership look like in action? Pacific and European voices on the outcomes of research collaboration can be heard in the video below, produced by France's Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD).

In the video, CTA's Judith Francis underlines how ST&I in a Pacific context must integrate and build on traditional knowledge.

"Traditional knowledge practices are in convergence with everything we do," says Francis. "The Pacific people have some traditional ways of doing which can better inform our science, and provide more solutions and opportunities for innovation that responds to social and economic needs."

This vast indigenous knowledge is just one aspect of the greater visibility of the Pacific in the EU and wider international research landscape. Respecting traditional knowledge has perhaps been one of the biggest legacy of the PACE-Net Plus experience. International organisations such as UNESCO, governments including New Zealand's, the European Commission and development partners are strongly committed to supporting the Pacific in realising its own ST&I agenda. Papua New Guinea and Samoa are just two of the Pacific Island states working on developing their national strategies for ST&I.

During the project, CTA supported the establishment of the Pacific Islands University and Research Network (PIURN), which will continue to be a vital tool for research collaboration and will help to drive the agenda for truly Pacific research and innovation. The vice-chancellors of the member universities are committed to this process.

CTA appreciated the leadership that Professor Jean-François Marini (PACE-NET Plus coordinator) and Fadhila Le Meur (PACE-NET Plus Project manager) provided, and valued the opportunity to work with a committed team of European and Pacific partners. We will continue to build on this partnership and the lessons learned in the years ahead as we implement the CTA Pacific regional flagship project. Judith Francis recently took over the leadership of the four year CTA/IFAD/PIPSO project "Leveraging the Development of Local Food Crops and Fisheries Value Chains for Improved Nutrition and Sustainable Food Systems in the Pacific Islands".

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