Pacific Countries and their Ocean: Facing Local and Global Changes
March 2 - 6, 2009
Tahiti, French Polynesia
The 11th Pacific Science Inter-Congress (PSIC-11) was held in Tahiti, French Polynesia from 2 - 6 March 2009. The Tahiti meeting was the most well-attended Inter-Congress in PSA's history, consisting of over 40 symposia and attracting over 881 scientists including 248 students from 49 countries. Including guests and visiting dignitaries, the attendance totaled over 1000 persons.
We congratulate the Organizing Committee for carrying out this very successful meeting, and thank all of our hosts in French Polynesia for their hard work, generosity, and hospitality.
Tahiti Inter-Congress sessions were based on the themes of ecosystems and biodiversity; climate change and ocean acidification; health challenges; cultural and political approaches to governance; and inter-regional cooperation and economic integration.
The theme of the 11th Pacific Science Inter-Congress was: "Pacific Countries and their Ocean: Facing Local and Global Changes". Subthemes were:
I. Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development
Knowledge of centres of species richness and endemism are fundamental to strategies for conserving biodiversity and the sustainable management of natural resources; indeed, it is within this context that modern biodiversity science takes place. The already-noticeable erosion of biodiversity has altered our collective vision of the natural environment and made the economic value of biological capital and ecosystem services more salient to the public and policymakers. Bio-taxonomic knowledge of an ecosystem is an important component of both effective environmental management and to the development of biotechnology. Pacific island environments are unique because their populations are particularly subject to intense speciation mechanisms that integrate the major drivers of evolution: migration, extinction, genetic drift, and natural selection. Oceanic islands are natural laboratories of the biodiversity dynamic, and of the interaction between humans and the environment. Because of the unique importance of biodiversity in the Pacific Islands and its role in serving human needs, its protection must be integrated into the sustainable development context in the region. Biodiversity plays a critical role in the economies and societies of the Pacific islands, such as forest products, fisheries, and aquaculture (ex. pearl oysters in French Polynesia).
II. Climate Change and Ocean Acidification
The Pacific is a critical region both driving the global climate system, and facing some of the most severe impacts of anthropogenic CO2 emissions: surface temperature warming, changes in the level and intensity of precipitation, sea level rise, and ocean acidification. Ecosystems face unprecedented challenges as the oceans become more acidic, human land-use intensifies, and extreme temperature and rainfall events become more frequent. Climate modeling and paleoclimate reconstruction offer important and complementary tools for understanding past and future climate change, how ecosystems adapt, and implications for human societies. The aim of this session will be twofold: 1. Describe and assess past and future climate variability in the context of the present anthropogenic climate change. We encourage both global and Pacific-based studies. Presentations dealing with the interaction between natural and human activities, and models of global warming and its impacts over the next century are particularly welcome. 2. Assess the magnitude and future trajectory of ocean acidification in the Pacific region, its likely impact on marine organisms and ecosystems, and the socio-economic implications of those impacts. Studies dealing with monitoring, experimental perturbations and modeling are particularly welcome.
III. Health Challenges in the Pacific: Infectious disease, non-communicable disease and health workforce
Moving into the 21st Century, the Asia-Pacific region faces several major public health challenges. For the region as a whole, infectious diseases still represent a major threat, the risk of emerging epidemics is high, especially for arboviruses (ex. dengue, Chikungunya, encephalitis ) and pandemic influenza and noncommunicalbe diseases pose serious health challenges. While several efficient networks already exist to characterize epidemiological trends and detect new epidemics waves, preparedness is still an issue in the region. The Pacific Islands face specific additional concerns, including an emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic, as evidenced by a report released by the World Health Organization and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. The current situation presents an urgent call for increased education and prevention campaigns on sexually transmitted infections, as well as better surveillance, screening and treatment. Another key challenge for “ Healthy Islands”, a model proposed for the Pacific, is the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases. Lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are rapidly increasing in both adults and children. The incidence of these diseases has grown dramatically because of changes in diet and a dramatic reduction in individuals’ level of activity. The challenge for public health officials is how to both manage the existing problem as well as to discourage lifestyle factors that negatively impact health. Finally, the ability to protect the public health depends on an educated and well trained public health professionals from the laboratory to the field. It is imperative that the Pacific region be committed to training and educating health workers, developing networks within the international scientific community and building applied research programs designed to meet the needs of the region’s countries and territories.
IV. Culture and Politics: The Cultural and Political Stakes of Modernity
Since their first contact with the West in the 16th century, the peoples of the Pacific have been perpetually engaged in the active reshaping and adapting their societies and cultures to outside cultural influences and technical, economic, and socio-political change. But at the beginning of the 21st Century, globalization introduces a new level and intensity of economic change and cultural exchanges – not just in the Pacific, but everywhere. In the face of profound and increasing social change, many island identities and cultures are experiencing a sense of being overwhelmed. The question of identity remains acute as local languages are threatened with oblivion, and when many cultural traditions are lost to development, and when traditional techniques, aesthetic values, and knowledge are neglected. It is vital to develop new models of decentralized governance that support the maintenance and retention of fundamental cultural values, while simultaneously remaining open to a complex, interconnected world. In this respect, the social sciences produce knowledge on Pacific societies, both ancient and modern, to help understand the past and construct the future.
V. Economy: Economic Challenges for the Future of the Pacific
Globalization raises a series of complex issues for the economic growth and development of different countries and territories in the Pacific area. This session will consider some of these issues, including:
The impact of globalization on human migration flows and the resulting financial transfers between countries of the area;
Alternative exchange rate systems and currency unions in the Pacific;
Deregulation, trade liberalisation and economic competition in the Pacific Islands;
The impact of globalization on economic inequality;
The economics of small, open and remote countries;
Governance and public policy in the Pacific region;
The impact of aid to Pacific island states;
The impact of local and global changes on tourism in the Pacific.
Keynote Speakers included:
Keynote speakers at the PSIC-11 included addresses from the following distinguished scholars. Louise Peltzer (President of the University of French Polynesia): “French Polynesia: Challenges for equal opportunities versus globalization”. Anne Salmond (Distinguished Professor of Maori Studies and Anthropology and Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Auckland): “Sacrifices from Afar: from first encounter to the future”. Brian Bowen (Associate Researcher, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology): “Genetic Connectivity and the Origin of Tropical Reef Biodiversity”. Jonathan Overpeck (Director, Environmental Studies Laboratory, Dept. of Geosciences, University of Arizona): “The Pacific, Climate Change, and the Future”. John Connell (Professor, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney): “What About the Workers? Where are health workers going, why, and with what impact?”. Mark McGillivray (Project Director, World Institute for Development Economics Research, United Nations University: “Achieving Growth Through Increasing Connectivity: Lessons from the South Pacific”. Patrick Kirch (Director, Oceanic Archaeology Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley): “Oceanic Islands as Model Systems for Human Ecodynamics”. Joanie Kleypas (Scientist II, U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research): “Pacific Acidification: Past, predictions, perceptions, and preventions”. Eric Dewailly (Director of the Public Health Research Unit, Laval University Medical Center): “Global Changes and Health in French Polynesia”. Dominique Wolton (Research Director, Centre national de la recherche scientifique): “Identité, communication et mondialisation”. Pierre Jacquet (Deputy Director, Institute of International Relations (IFRI) and Chief Editor, Politique étrangère): Comprendre pour agir: Quels outils pour d écider des politiques de développement durable?”.
Individual sessions included:
The official 2009 Inter-Congress Program Book can be found here.
Resolutions of the 11th Pacific Science Inter-Congress
Resolution on Ocean Acidification
In the two years since the 21st Pacific Science Congress endorsed a PSA emphasis on ocean acidification as a rapidly emerging scientific field of critical importance to the Pacific Island nations, the topic has grown in prominence and importance. New information has emerged regarding critical new ecosystem effects for critical habitats such as coral reefs, as well as the prediction of a marked increase in oceanic dead zones. The presentation of a large number of strong contributions in this field at the Inter-Congress is testimony to the strong growth of this field. The PSA therefore encourages the revitalization of the PSA Working Group on Ocean Acidification, with the goal of presenting a comprehensive account of progress in this field to policymakers at the 2011 Congress.
Resolution on Cooperation in Science and Education in the Pacific Islands
PSA recognizes the rapid increase in effective cooperation in science and education between regional and international scientific and educational institutions, international and local NGOs, regional organizations, government agencies, the private sector and local communities, and the application of this cooperation to sustainable development in the Pacific Islands. PSA also recognizes the important contribution that funding entities, including international foundations, industry, and national aid sources, have played in these developments.
PSA endorses the increasing emphasis on the application and packaging of science and education as a basis for improved education and sustainable development and conservation initiatives and for bridging the gap between the most up-to-date science and Pacific Island nations and local communities.
PSA also endorses the increasing emphasis on documenting, conserving, and applying indigenous and traditional knowledge to local development initiatives, and on collecting, protecting, and promoting the conservation of threatened cultural plants and other biodiversity and genetic resources, which can help provide a basis for sustainable island development.
PSA recognizes the importance of increased involvement of youth, Pacific Island peoples and local community representatives in cooperative scientific and educational initiatives, with particular recognition of the increase in the representation of youth in scientific initiatives and the increased emphasis on the postgraduate training of Pacific as integral components of cooperative initiatives.
The PSA recognizes the following gaps or opportunities for further increasing the effectiveness of cooperation in science and education as a basis for sustainable development in the Pacific Islands:
Resolution on Invasive Alien Species
Invasive alien species (IAS) represent a well-known threat to native Pacific biodiversity and several sectors of the region’s civil society. Several regional organizations are already in place to facilitate regional coordination and cooperation in the taxonomy and natural history of IAS (e.g., PACINET, BioNET-INTERNATIONAL, and the University of the South Pacific); monitoring and control of IAS by the region’s national environmental agencies (e.g., SPREP, Pacific Invasives Partnership); and applied scientific approaches to the monitoring and identification of IAS such as DNA barcoding (e.g., Consortium for the Barcode of Life).
PSA endorses increased collaborative efforts to identify and address invasive species issues, which constitute one of the main threat to sustainable island development. PSA is well-positioned to take an active leadership role in creating synergies among these potential partners. PSA resolves to promote the creation, by the 22nd PSA Congress in 2011, of a Working Group dedicated to creating the research capabilities needed to implement science-based, cost-effective programs for monitoring and controlling IAS in the Pacific.
Building Research Capacity in Taxonomy
PSA recognizes that taxonomy is a basic tool in addressing many practical socioeconomic challenges, such as food security, environmental protection, and public health. The Association also recognizes the significant “taxonomic impediment” to biodiversity conservation, which is the lack of trained taxonomists and research infrastructure for taxonomy.
PSA recognizes the need to strengthen taxonomic and bio-informatic capacity in the region as a way of addressing the “taxonomic impediment” to the sustainable use of, and equitable access to, biodiversity, and resolves to strengthen the long-term collaborations between the taxonomic research institutions and activities on Pacific islands and taxonomic initiatives around the Pacific Rim and elsewhere.
Resolution Thanking the PSI-09 Hosts and Local Organizing Committee
The Pacific Science Association wishes to extend its congratulations and gratitude to the Governments of France, the Government of French Polynesia for the outstanding success of the 11th Pacific Science Inter-Congress. In particular, the PSA Council and Executive Board wish to acknowledge the exceptional efforts of Dr. Pierre Mery, Special Assistant in Charge of Research and Technology in French Polynesia, Dr. Priscille Frogier, Director of the Research Department of French Polynesia, and Dr. Jean-Claude Angue, Special Assistant in Charge of Research and Technology in New Caledonia.
The PSA Council and Executive Board also wish to thank the Session Organizers and the members of the International Organizing Committee, including Co-Chairs Dr. Congbin Fu and Dr. Fabrice Colin, as well as Bill Aalbersberg, Hamid Amir, Marie-Lise Chanin, Jean-Claude Cochard, Julie Cole, Juan Correa, Jacques Commaille, David Fielding, Jean-Pierre Gattuso, Hervé Jourdan, Nancy Lewis, Christian Montet, Claude Payri, Serge Planes, Sumonta Promboon, George Roderick, Bernard Salvat, Gérard Siclet, Serge Tcherkezoff, Rémy Teyssou, Randy Thaman, Darrell Tryon, and Makoto Tsuchiya.
PSA also extends its thanks to the Local Organizing Committee, including Mr. Adolphe Colrat, the High Commissioner of the Republic of French Polynesia and Mr. Oscar Temaru, the President of French Polynesia. PSA recognizes and thanks the Vice-President of French Polynesia, the Minister-in-Charge of Research and Cultural Affairs, the Minister-in-Charge of Environment, the Minister-in-Charge of Marine Resources and the Sea, the Minister-in-Charge of Land Planning, the Minister-in-Charge of Health, the Minister-in-Charge of the Economy, and the Heads of the Departments of French Polynesia. Representing the Office of the High Commissioner, we recognize the efforts of the General Secretary, the Attaché to the General Secretary, the Windward Islands Administrator, the Chief of Staff of the High Commissioner, and the Heads of French Departments. The PSA Council and Board thanks the President of the University of French Polynesia and the various research institutions in French Polynesia and New Caledonia.
The PSA thanks the various keynote speakers, including Dr. Louise Peltzer, Dr. Anne Salmond, Dr. Brian Bowen, Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, Dr. John Connell, Dr. Mark McGillivray, Dr. Patrick Kirch, Dr. Joanie Kleypas, Dr. Eric Dewailly, Dr. Dominique Wolton, and Dr. Pierre Jacquet.
The PSA wishes to emphasize its sincere and deep thanks to the Government of France and French Polynesia, who provided the generous financial support for the Inter-Congress. Without this support, the participation of so many young scientists, students, and Pacific Island guests at this meeting would not have been possible. We also wish to acknowledge and thank our partners at the Académie des Sciences for its critical cooperation and support, and for the success in integrating 2nd Symposium on French Research in the Pacific with the 11th Inter-Congress and thereby enhancing the success of both meetings.
The PSA Council and Board recognize the hard work of a number of individuals working in the Inter-Congress Secretariat and logistics team and we thank them for their efforts. The commitment of these persons to the organization of such a complex meeting such as this Inter-Congress was fundamental, and the PSA Council and Executive Board extend their thanks.
The PSA thanks and congratulates the Delegation from Malaysia for its presentation on the 22nd Pacific Science Congress. We look forward to working with the hosts in Malaysia in ensuring the success of the next Congress in Kuala Lumpur in June 2011.
And finally, PSA thanks all the scientists and students who shared the fruits of their research in their presentation and poster sessions.
The goals of the Inter-Congress were: