Transport link vital to Pacific

Alison Newell, Katerina Syngellakis, Andrew Irvin, Tamaholo Kami and Mark Borg during the press conference yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THE Pacific Islands Transport Forum next week is a great platform for the University of the South Pacific to showcase some their students’ research and ideas in terms of looking for local solutions for our transport challenges.

During a press conference at the University of the South Pacific in Suva yesterday, Sailing for Sustainability Fiji Ltd director Alison Newell said the transport sector was such a critical area for all Pacific Islands considering if we think about our access to food.

“Some of the countries in the Pacific are completely reliant on food security from imports brought in by international ships for instance,” Ms Newell said.

“The role of the transport sector is fundamental to our economies and to our everyday existence.”

Ms Newell said USP had been doing research particularly into the maritime transport since 2012 and have hosted two conferences (in 2012 and 2014) and were now also focusing on land transport and aviation.

“This is particularly for a country such as Fiji which is really dependent on international tourism and one would start to think about what international trends might look like if the cost of international flights go up for instance.”

She added that USP had a wide network of academics that were global leaders in the fields of decarbonisation, so it was a good opportunity for them to showcase some of those networks and highlight how important it is to work in partnership.

“The reality is the transition that we need if we are going to try and meet 1.5 degrees is so huge that nobody in the Pacific is going to be able to do it alone and it is going to depend upon all of us working together collectively and as a fundamental role with the private sector and government along with academic institutions.”

Ms Newell said the issue of land transport in the past five years had become such a major issue for bigger islands.