The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) today (Tuesday) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), committing to increased collaboration for the benefit of the Pacific region.

The signing, which took place at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre at USP's Laucala Campus in Suva, was attended by senior staff from both organisations.

Under this MOU, the two intergovernmental organisations will work closely to ensure enhanced delivery of services to their twelve common members: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Samoa.

Starting this year, SPC and USP will develop joint programmes in areas of mutual interest, including, but not limited to, information and communication technologies (ICT); renewable energy and energy efficiency; climate change and climate-related disaster risk reduction; management of marine and coastal resources; environmental waste and water pollution; arts and culture; education; development, governance and leadership

The two prominent organisations have committed to increased collaboration at all levels, from the governance level up to the operational level. Enhanced cooperation will result in real benefits to the region, as USP and SPC both have a wide range of expertise in regional priorities, and their respective strengths will complement one another.

USP and SPC will jointly develop the Regional Framework on Technical and Vocational Education and the Regional Framework on ICT in Education in 2012. These two policy documents will provide the context for all Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) organisations' activities in these areas. They will be significant resources for the region, and will enable the two organisations to ensure that work being done in these areas is aligned to the Pacific Islands Forum leaders' vision.
Speaking at the signing, USP's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rajesh Chandra, noted that, 'USP is happy to cooperate with SPC for the benefit of the region so that, together, we can lead by example. The Pacific Plan, which our leaders endorsed over six years ago, can make progress only through such collaboration between key CROP agencies.

'It is timely that we are signing this MOU now, as it will assist and inform the development of the University's new Strategic Plan 2013-2018. I am confident that this MOU will assist us to provide a more comprehensive response to the region's priority needs,' he explained.

The Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Dr Jimmie Rodgers, said, 'This MOU enables our two organisations to join forces in equipping Pacific Island people with the skills they need to respond effectively to the challenges they're facing today, such as climate change, through effective education and training.'

He added, 'Appropriate education is key to Pacific Island people making informed decisions about their future and the future they wish to leave for the generations that follow.

'This MOU is an institutional partnership that will guide the future working relationship between our two organisations. It provides opportunities for USP to reach out to SPC members that are not members of USP through the SPC network in areas where USP's services could add value to their national development outcome.'

Dr Rodgers went on to say that, 'USP and SPC provide the region with an exceptional pool of expertise and resources that, when well applied and coordinated, will provide the foundation for a more effective delivery of regional services to members to help them achieve their national development outcomes.

'The MOU provides the framework for this new approach to regional services by the Pacific's two largest and oldest organisations.'