Old knowledge is US-bound

Traditional survival knowledge from the Pacific could soon be further researched and improved upon at one of the world’s most prestigious universities — the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

Communication relations senior officer at SOLVE MIT Sara Monteabaro said they were looking to unearth solutions to global challenges.

“SOLVE is an initiative by MIT and what we do is we use open innovations and partnerships to help solve the world’s greatest challenge.”

Reports by this newspaper that islanders and relevant stakeholders had found the best mitigation and adaptation measures for climate change have not gone unnoticed by one of the world’s leading research universities.

“In addition to our youth skill and future challenge, SOLVE also runs a challenge within a sustainability pillar so our current sustainability pillar is looking at sustainability in urban communities and also a focus on climate change,” Ms Monteabaro said.

“We are looking for solutions specifically on climate change, and as of next year, we will be talking to innovators, talking to experts to help us identify what the next big challenge is and we are hoping maybe with the input of Fijians here on the island, we will be able to push for what the next challenge of climate change will be.

“And this is something we can take up to the global community. So from my conversations I have had here, I am able take them back to our experts at MIT campus as well as across the SOLVE community and influence or at least share with them what’s happening here on the island and be able to perhaps influence what our next challenge will be.”

Earlier reports revealed islanders have found traditional knowledge help with shoreline restoration protecting islands from rising sea levels.

In addition, through intense research an ancient way of life has been discovered by the Pacific Community (SPC) that ensures food and water security for the heavily impacted islands because of climate change.

Ms Monteabaro was in the country earlier this month talking with young innovators for solutions to global challenges, the impacts of which are being more keenly felt by some local communities on a daily basis.

“The point of the ideation workshop by the University of the South Pacific and the Australian Government is to work with innovators and help them refine the solutions to the youth skills and workforce for the future challenge.

“Our goal being once we have refined their ideas, we are able to then submit a solution to SOLVE open innovation platform and have the opportunity to be collected and be part of the SOLVE community.

“Fiji, we know, is a major innovation hub here in the Pacific Islands, we know there is a lot of great enthusiasm here on the island in order to solve challenges.

“We know that climate change is of utmost important to Fiji as well as your neighbouring islands here in the Pacific, but we also know we have to prepare young people for the future … as well to teach adaptable skills, critical thinking skills and that is something that we are hoping to find out.

“The … solution exists here to help and to perhaps implement here or on other islands and in the region.”

Since the establishment of SOLVE, Ms Monteabaro said, they had managed to provide solutions to some growing challenges.

“Last year we ran a challenge on refugee innovation and we had nine solvers selected from our challenge competition and of those, there were quite a few amazing innovations.

“One of those is a mobile app which teaches young refugees age five to 10, reading, writing and maths skills using Syrian specific contexts and contents and it is a fascinating way of lavishing technology for social good particularly in a refugee context.”

According to Wikipedia, MIT was founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialisation of the US. MIT researchers worked on computers, radar, and inertial guidance during World War II and the Cold War.

The institute is also traditionally known for its research and education in the physical sciences and engineering and more recently in biology, economics, linguistics and also management.

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