A Samoan is among four successful applicants of a programme designed to address development challenges in the Pacific Island Countries with the help of Japan.
Josef Tuunasoli Pisi, a former employee of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E), was among the first batch of Pacific Leaders’ Educational Assistance for Development of State (Pacific – L.E.A.D.S) Programme in 2016.
As part of the programme, Mr. Pisi is studying towards a Master of Environmental Science at Hokkaido University, Graduate School of Environmental Science.
The Pacific LEADS Programme was initiated after the Japanese government hosted the 7th Pacific Island Leaders Meeting (PALM7) in May 2015.
At the time, leaders of Japan and Pacific Island Countries agreed to enhance cooperation with a central focus on disaster risk reduction; climate change; environment; people to people exchange; sustainable developments (including human resources development); ocean (maritime issues and fisheries); trade (investment & tourism).
It’s objective is to foster young leaders who play a vital role towards the resolution of development challenges in Pacific Island Countries, as well as to further strengthen the relationships between their countries and Japan.
“I have always wanted to further my educational career, after having completed undergraduate degree in Environmental studies back in 2008 and working in the environmental management field for the past seven years,” said Mr. Pisi.
“I obtained information about Pac LEADS from a former colleague and then I applied.”
The rest as they say is history.
But being away from his family is challenging, he said.
“Although it’s quite challenging being isolated from home and family, studying in Japan has given me the opportunity to become an independent researcher.”
It was a huge adjustment at first undergoing culture shock and anxiety but was also a great lifetime experience for him.
“The Pacific L.E.A.DS programme involves an assortment of experiences and activities that aim not only to build co-creation and information exchange, but also strengthen ties between Samoa and Japan.”
This week, Mr. Pisi is back in Samoa conducting a field research for his course thesis.
“Studying Global Environmental Management (G.E.M) course offers a great glimpse and understanding of the current global issues we are facing today, on every aspect, and relating management strategies to the context of the Pacific is an important part of being a Pacific Island representative,” he said.
His research field focuses on building resilient ecosystems through forest restoration as an ecosystem based adaptation strategy to climate change.
The intention is to establish a regulated ecosystem restoration approaches by understanding species characters and behaviours in different habitats (autecology and phytosociology) through experiments and monitoring surveys in order to restore degraded ecosystems and functions of environmental protection.
“My hope is that the completion of my graduate degree will enable me to engage in the decision making process on environmental issues that would subsequently help contribute to achieving and providing answers to some of Samoa’s national environment policy frameworks in the future.”
Mr. Pisi, believes that the Pacific LEADS Programme offers a great opportunity to young leaders who are academically motivated and seeking to advance their career paths in their areas of interest.
He said that this programme has really broaden his capacity and equipped him with advanced knowledge required to enable solutions on development challenges related to environmental management in our country.
“It is and honour for me personally to have the opportunity provided by the Japanese Government through JICA to represent Samoa in such an imperative initiative, and I hope that more young Samoans working in the Government/civil sector take advantage of such limited program to gain that much needed knowledge for the betterment of their services as current civil servants and future leaders of the country”.
Pacific Leaders’ Educational Assistance for Development of State (Pacific – LEADS) Programme is now open until October.