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Topics include ecosystems, climate change and health

PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Mar 3, 2009) - French High Commissioner Adolphe Colrat and French Polynesia Vice President Antony Géros gave welcoming speeches Monday during the opening ceremonies of the 11th Pacific Science Inter-Congress and 2nd Symposium on French Research in the Pacific.

Addressing an audience of over 800 scientists from 12 countries and French Polynesia and New Caledonia, Vice President Géros said Tahiti wants "to say loud and clear the potential that our ‘country’... can contribute to research and the scientific community as a whole."

Géros also noted French Polynesia’s efforts to reach the forefront in medical research, particularly in the areas of dengue fever and ciguatera.

French High Commissioner Colrat emphasized that never has a Tahiti-hosted congress brought together so many participants. He said the several themes to be discussed during the congress are central to France and its international activities. Such activities include, he said, the challenges of globalization, culture and the method of governing, as well as a follow up to France’s congress on the environment, sustainable development and climate change.

Dr. Congbin Fu, president of the Pacific Science Association (PSA), also spoke during the opening ceremonies held at the Hilton Hotel Tahiti. The PSA, the inter-congress co-sponsor, is a regional non-governmental, scholarly organization that seeks to advance science, technology and sustainable development in and of the Asia-Pacific region by actively promoting interdisciplinary and international research and collaboration.

The Pacific Science Inter-Congress is being held at the same time as the 2nd Symposium on French Research in the Pacific. Both events will continue through Friday.

"Pacific Countries and Their Ocean Facing Local and Global Changes" is the inter-congress theme for the event organized by the French and French Polynesia governments in association with the Pacific Science Association.

Work will be divided into five sub-sessions dealing with the theme at a scientific, human, socio-economic and cultural level, according to general presentation prepared for the news media. The five sub-sessions are:

Initial indications show the following breakdown of participants: 159 from French Polynesia; 92 from France, 88 from the USA, 62 from New Caledonia, 49 from Australia, 42 from China, 35 from Japan, 32 from New Zealand, 29 from Fiji, 21 from Nigeria, 15 from Canada, 11 from Taiwan, 10 from Papua New Guinea and 76 from other countries.

The 1st Symposium on French Research in the Pacific was held in August 2004 in Nouméa, New Caledonia. Financing is coming from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Pacific Fund; the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research; the French Polynesia government; the French Overseas Secretariat of State and the French Research Institute for Development.

"The overall goal of the inter-congress is to take stock of knowledge on the issues of local and global change from scientific, human, social, economics and cultural perspectives, using an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach," according to the communiqué.

The inter-congress also has four specific goals. They are:


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