The Fiji National University (FNU) and Monash University will today launch an international research centre to further address one of the challenges of our age, climate change.
The world-first Pacific Action for Climate Transitions (PACT) research centre, which will be jointly based across the two universities, will focus on the critical links between business and climate change, and finding real-world solutions to communities at the frontline of our changing environment.
Pacific island nations are among the most vulnerable to our world’s changing climate with many already experiencing higher temperatures, shifts in rainfall patterns and changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events.
The PACT partnership will address the business and economic implications of climate change, with world-leading academic researchers highly sought after by policy makers looking to effectively fund mitigation and adaptation measures in the Pacific region and beyond.
In addition to its research focus, the PACT centre will provide high-quality training and capacity building for local policy makers.
Monash University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Rebekah Brown said, “The launch of this Centre today reaffirms the deep and enduring relationship Monash University has built with the Pacific region over many years. Initiatives such as the World Mosquito program and the RISE program have already made a real difference to the lives of communities throughout the Pacific at the frontline of climate change impacts.
“The PACT Centre further enhances our capacity to find evidence-based global solutions to the challenges of our changing climate and beyond. We’re so proud to partner with Fiji National University and to have the continuing support of the Government of Fiji on this flagship initiative.”
A number of collaborative research projects have already begun under the PACT partnership, looking at enhancing climate resilience and wellbeing, supporting and informing the effective implementation of Fiji’s Climate Change Act 2021 and designing scalable carbon sequestration contracts.
Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba, Acting Vice-Chancellor of Fiji National University welcomes today’s launch; “Fiji is one of the many Pacific Island countries facing the drastic impacts of climate change on our nation and the livelihoods of many of our citizens. As the national tertiary institution, Fiji National University is delighted to collaborate with neighbouring partners such as Australia’s Monash University to address the issues associated with the grand global challenge of climate action,” she said.
“The Pacific Action for Climate Transitions centre will enable the conduct of evidence-based research in Climate Change by academics from both institutions to inform policies and practice in the field. Pacific people will gain access to new knowledge that will enable them to address a myriad of climate change issues by research that is conducted for our people, by our people.”
FNU Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Roland De Marco, said “PACT will lay the foundations for evidence-based research that informs policy and practice on climate resilience and adaptation within the Pacific Islands region via the initial tripartite relationship between the Fiji Government, Monash University and FNU.”
“As the research of PACT progresses, the PACT foundation partners look forward to broadening linkages and the PACT footprint to the extended Pacific Island region via relationships with other Pacific Island Countries, associated Line Ministries, Pacific Island Civil Societies, other Pacific Island Universities, other Pacific Island research providers, and other end user organisations within the region.”
“This will ensure that PACT achieves significant impact across the broader Pacific Islands region.”
Monash Business School, Monash University’s second largest faculty and internationally recognised for excellence in research and education in Australia, the Asia-Pacific and around the world, will oversee the partnership.
“Much of the focus in research on climate change has been on either understanding the science of it, trying to push forward with mitigation strategies or changing consumer behaviour,” says Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics, and head of the Monash Business School, Professor Simon Wilkie.
“But what we’re focused on is actually: ‘How do economies that have been damaged and shocked by climate change already, transition going forward and restructure their economy to become more resilient and rebuild that have failed and make them more robust?’”
“With Fiji currently losing two-and-a-half percent of its GDP every year on average due to infrastructure damage, PACT can be a driving force behind the Pacific’s transition to a resilient region in the face of climate change,” he said.
Having grown up in Fiji, Monash Business School’s, Professor Paresh Narayan has experienced climate change first-hand. It was his vision to bring Monash University principles to Pacific Island communities.
“For Monash to go into Fiji and shake hands with a small university on a global subject signifies the importance that Monash places on climate change as a global challenge for not only Pacific Island countries, but global citizens,” Professor Narayan says.
“It’s a very proud moment for me as a Pacific Islander, as a Fijian, to see this partnership come to fruition.”
The Fijian Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Honourable Professor Biman Prasad is the guest speaker at today’s launch which is also attended by several Pacific dignitaries as well as representatives from the Australian and UK High Commissions.
The PACT partnership will further the meaningful work already undertaken by Monash University in the Pacific region. In 2017 Monash established the World Mosquito Program project site in Fiji, which has expanded to sites in Kiribati, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, making a real difference to the lives of communities through the reduction of mosquito-borne diseases.
In addition, the community-based RISE (Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments) program involving both Monash University and FNU, an initiative to achieve clean water and sanitation, now extends to 24 informal settlements across Fiji and Indonesia.
In November 2022, Monash University appointed internationally respected human rights leader and former United Nations Representative, and Solomon Islands Ambassador, Rex Horoi to the role of Special Envoy on Climate Change in the Pacific, believed to be a first by an Australian University.
The Dean of FNU’s College of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (CAFF), Prof Paul Iji, believes that this partnership will strongly boost FNU’s foray into research on climate change resilience, and will help to attract local and international students into climate change research and education at FNU. He added that there is a possibility of re-developing existing programmes, as well as the creation of new, improved and focused research and education initiatives.