A group of 11 undergraduate students from various universities and colleges in the United States of America paid a visit to the Secretariat of the Environment Programme (SPREP) at the end of October as part of the School of International Training (SIT)’s Study Abroad Programme.
They are spending a semester in Samoa at the National University of Samoa (NUS), which is one of 80 international campuses recognised under the SIT’s programme.
The programme is guided by the theme “Social and Environmental Change”, and the students’ visit to SPREP was aimed at giving them an idea of the work being done by SPREP to promote and ensure a resilient Pacific environment in harmony with Pacific islands culture and natural heritage.
The students were given a tour of the recently completed and opened Pacific Climate Change Centre, where they learned more about this Pacific Centre of Excellence and how it is a testament to partnership and innovation in the Pacific.
Presentations were given by select staff of the Secretariat, specifically from the Environmental Monitoring and Governance (EMG) programme and the Waste Management and Pollution Control programme.
Mr Paul Anderson, Project Manager for the Inform Project, spoke to the students about the work being done by the EMG programme in the Pacific as well as the Inform project, specifically in establishing data portals in which all necessary information on the environment are stored for ease of access to aid decision making.
Mr Anderson also spoke on the support SPREP provides to its Pacific island Members to develop State of Environment reports and National Environment Management Strategies which will greatly benefit the environment for those countries.
The Waste Management and Pollution Control programme was another area of interest for the students, who heard from Solid Waste Management Adviser, Ms. Ma Bella Guinto, that Waste Management isn’t always “dirty work” as most make it out to be.
Jenny Struthers, one of the students from the SIT programme, said, “I learned so much today about the work that SPREP does in the Pacific, and I was intrigued to learn about how to get creative with conservation. This visit was very informative and I enjoyed it very much.”
Most of the students expressed their interest in coming back to the SPREP library to get more resources which will help them with their studies.
Dr. Taomi Tapu-Qiliho of SIT said, “This is the tenth week of our programme and we wanted to have this visit towards the end so that the students will have a bit more understanding of the context in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Pacific environment and I believe that this really fuelled their eagerness to learn today, as was evident by their inquisitiveness and their willingness to ask questions to get more in-depth answers about the presentations that were given this morning.”
The students visit took place on 29 October with them returning to the United States of America in the beginning of December upon completion of their semester abroad at NUS.