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Cost of attendance possible obstacle

By Gladys Hartson HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 5, 2010) – Auckland-Victoria University lecturer, Dr. Kabini Sanga of the Solomon Islands, expressed concern at the lack of Pacific representation at last week’s United Nations-backed workshop about key ethical issues raised by the challenges of climate change.

The two-day meeting held at AUT University in Auckland was part of a global series of workshops organized by the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), in conjunction with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The workshops aimed to get feedback from regional experts about the scope and nature of a possible global declaration of ethical principles in relation to climate change.

However, Dr. Sanga, an education lecturer, was concerned not only with the lack of Pacific representation at the workshop but also with the format of the discussion.

He said it was "totally unethical" to have no Pacific representation at the workshop and that this was not a new issue.

Around 25 participants attended the talks, including UNESCO representatives and Asia Pacific experts from a range of professional backgrounds.

Most experts were New Zealand-based.

Pasifika participants included Pacific Islands Studies Prof. Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop from AUT’s Institute of Public Policy, head of the Ministry of Pacific Affairs Dr. Colin Tukuitonga, and political sociologist at Auckland University, Dr. Steven Ratuva.

While Pacific nations were invited to attend the workshop, they were also expected to cover the costs.

But workshop participants raised concerns about the issue, considering several Pacific states are amongst the most vulnerable to the results of climate change.

Dr. Sanga was also concerned with the format of the discussion.

Dr. Sanga said the starting point for the discussion is problematic and the key to recognizing differences in terms of ethics should be looked at in societal terms.

However John Crowley from UNESCO said Pacific member states are not being left out.

"There are three separate opportunities for Pacific member states to take part in this process," he said.

Mr. Crowley understood the financial difficulties for representatives of any nation to attend and said they prefer wherever possible to use technological means of communication.

The next workshop will be held in Bangkok from the 11th-12th of May.

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