Wednesday, 28. September 2011 - 7:10

Move, Adapt or Drown

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34 university students attending the Asia-Pacific Youth Science Exchange Forum (APYSEF) at OIST had three concluding words to say to developed and developing nations, ‘Move, Adapt or Drown!’

In July 2010, Mr. Seiji Maehara, the then Minister for Okinawa Affairs, called for youth involvement in discussions around the impact of science on Pacific society. The call by Mr. Maehara resulted in a collaborative effort by OIST and the University of Ryukyus to organize a four-day APYSEF. The forum brought together some of the brightest students from 14 Asia-Pacific islands and 8 young scientific experts in the fields of ecology, reef biology and Pacific island management as panelists.

postersStudent PowerPoint presentation on their experiences in the pacific islands

From the discussions with scientific experts, student poster presentations, and vivid accounts of problems facing the youth and their island communities, some major threats challenging Pacific communities were identified. These included climate change, overfishing, and land-based ocean pollution. Some of the solutions identified were raising public awareness about climate change impacts both at local and global scale, formulation of better economic infrastructure not completely reliant on fishing and the transmission of cultural practices and traditional ecological knowledge.

Christian Cabiles of the Bicol University, Philippines said, “It’s important for me and us as youth to be aware of what is happening in our communities especially on our mother earth.” His sentiments were echoed by his newly met companion Paul Bump of the University of Hawaii, USA, “The biggest thing I am taking out of this is being able to put a face to the country and the problem, these are real personal issues with real people connected to these problems but solutions exist and all we need is real actions!”

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Lisa Stevenson voicing her idea at the forum

In the presence of Dr. Hiroko Sho, a member of OIST’s Board of Governors, Dr. Hideo Yamasaki, Vice President of the University of the Ryukyus, the invited scientific experts, and the local media, the students were not shy to develop an accurate well-structured resolution plan. A show of hands and later signatures appended to the printed document passed a motion with all in favor of the resolution. Dr. Harry Wilson, the main organizer of the forum and the academic affairs manager at OIST, stressed that adoption of this resolution relied on the youth present and their role in taking these resolutions forward to their community, leaders and government. “Each one of you must carry through this effort that you have begun, it would be great to see some of these student driven initiatives come to fruition in your island communities.”

This forum was a great way to bring youth together and engage them in existing scientific information and let them make their future trajectory, the path that they want to see governments, organizations and their own communities take. There can be no doubt that if the world wants to see real change then the youth need to be involved.

List of Panelists

Name Affiliation Area
Jack Kittinger Stanford University USA
Dan Barshis Stanford University USA
Yoko Nozawa Academia Sinica Taiwan
Exsley Taloiburi United Nations Development Programme, Office in Solomon Islands Solomon
Huiyu Wang National Taiwan University Taiwan
Sean MacDuff University of Hawaii USA
Chuya Shinzato Marine Genomics Unit, OIST Okinawa
Masako Nakamura Marine Biophysics Unit, OIST Okinawa

 

Participating Universities

 

Affiliation Area Number of Participants
University of Hawaii USA 2
University of Guam USA 1
James Cook University Australia 1
University of the South Pacific Fiji 4
National University of Samoa Samoa 2
University of New Caledonia New Caledonia 1
University of Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 2
Atenisi University Tonga 2
Palau Community College Palau 2
Bogor Agricultural University Indonesia 2
Diponegoro University Indonesia 2
Bicol University Phillippine 2
National Taiwan University Taiwan 2
Ibaraki University Ibaraki 1
Okinawa National College of Technology Okinawa 1
Kyushu University Fukuoka 1
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University Oita 3
University of the Ryukyus Okinawa 3