Launch of the Norway-Pacific Ocean-Climate Scholarship Programme

 

On Tuesday 28 April, Edvard Hviding participated in the virtual launch of the Norway-Pacific Ocean-Climate Scholarship Programme (N-POC) at the United Nations. The programme is funded by Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Norad (the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) for 2021-2024, and is a partnership between the University of Bergen in Norway and the University of the South Pacific (USP). N-POC will provide 24 fully funded PhD scholarships to students from all 12 member nations of the USP, as well as Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and Papua New Guinea.

At the N-POC virtual launch, speeches were given by Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Norway’s Minister of Development Cooperation Dag Inge Ulstein, Fiji’s United Nations Ambassador (and Chair of the Pacific group at the UN) Satyendra Prasad, the University of Bergen’s Rector Dag Rune Olsen, and the USP’s Vice Chancellor and President Pal Ahluwalia. In attendance were United Nations diplomats from 12 Pacific nations and Norway, leading representatives of both universities, and representatives of Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Norad.

 

Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama delivering his statement at the N-POC launch. Also on screen (from top): Satyendra Prasad, Edvard Hviding, Odd-Inge Kvalheim and Dag Rune Olsen. Photo credit: Satyendra Prasad

 

 

Mare Nullius and Bergen Pacific Studies (BPS) are closely connected with the N-POC scholarship programme. N-POC is rooted in the decades-long relationship between the USP and the University of Bergen, which Edvard has played a significant role in driving forward. While the 24 PhD students will be based in Suva, Fiji for a majority of their 3-year scholarship (also conducting fieldwork in various sites across the Pacific) they will all be invited to attend a summer research school at the University of Bergen in Norway, dedicated specially to N-POC. Mare Nullius and BPS will be involved in the development of the summer school programme – and are very much looking forward it.

High spirits at the N-POC launch. From top left: Satyendra Prasad, Edvard Hviding, Derrick Armstrong, Odd-Inge Kvalheim, Dag-Inge Ulstein, Vainga Tone, Dag-Rune Olsen. Photo credit: Sverre Drønen

Not only is N-POC inter-institutional, it is also interdisciplinary; ‘from poetry to physics’, Edvard underlined at the launch, students from a broad range of backgrounds who wish to research ocean and climate issues are encouraged to apply. The ambition of N-POC is to build a strong group of Pacific researchers from a variety of disciplines, with the capacity to address the urgent and highly complex challenges for the ocean and climate. Their expertise will strengthen the regional knowledge base that informs both regional and global policy. Addressing the United Nations Pacific diplomats, Edvard elaborated on the importance of multi- and interdisciplinarity at the launch, saying, “we need them not just to be good scientists… we need them to be diplomats, to be leaders who can take your hand in those situations where politics, policy and knowledge and science meet at the ocean and climate nexus”.

 

 

 

While the coronavirus pandemic has forced restrictions on in-person communication, travel and for very many, their sense of present and future security, the N-POC project – even if pushed to later dates than originally planned due to the pandemic – offers a much needed opportunity and development to look forward to. Ocean and climate issues are closely connected to the issues that have arisen with the coronavirus crisis; they all shed light on local and global inequalities that must be addressed if we truly want a sustainable future for all. The Mare Nullius team is excited to see N-POC come to life, and those of us in Bergen look forward to meeting and learning with the 24 soon-to-be Ocean-Climate researchers.

 

If you would like to learn more about N-POC, follow the links below:
– University of Bergen – N-POC announcement and information
– N-POC Factsheet
– N-POC Press release

 

Written by Miriam Ladstein and Edvard Hviding