The Pacific Islands Society believes that the combined challenges of geographical remoteness, limited finances and environmental vulnerabilities place Pacific Island Countries (PICs) at the fore of political relevance. Despite such constraints, island nations have a great potential to develop innovative solutions to shared challenges. Their capacity to impact international policy just needs to be strengthened.

Growing concerns surrounding traditional and nontraditional security threats (e.g., maritime security and climate change) have shifted greater focus to the valuable contributions PICs can make in tackling global challenges. Although small, PICs are at the nexus of global powers on the periphery of the Pacific Rim amidst delicate power balances. Being at the frontline of addressing major security issues, the experience and perspective of PICs becomes definitive of how future generations will tackle issues like immigration, climate change, and natural disasters. The problem therefore is not the relevance of PICs. Rather, it is the need for broader opportunities to educate, empower and support the next generation of experts on the problems that they will ultimately inherit.

In recent years we have seen a greater effort in PIC representation and leadership in forums such as the UN Small Island Developing States (SIDS); COP21 Paris Climate Change Conference and regional and global disarmament efforts. Following the success of its inaugural class, the Pacific Islands Society wants to ensure PICs active engagement in these discussions not only continues, but expands in order to ensure the growth of Pacific Islands security policy experts. The Pacific Islands Society is therefore very excited to invite young professionals, postgraduate and research students from the Pacific region to participate the in 2016-2017 Pacific Security Scholars Program.

Leading experts and professionals actively involved in some of the highest levels of multilateral diplomacy will serve as mentors, providing one-to-one support and an exclusive insight into the intricacies of public diplomacy. Selected scholars will in turn have the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and policy recommendations on a global platform by submitting regular articles and opinion pieces for publication on the Pacific Islands Society website.

Lora Vaoileti, a member of the inaugural class says ‘the program gave me figurative pass to access regional experts on the Pacific. This helped me to build a picture of the broad challenges that our region faces. Along the way, I came to understand how willing many are to share their thoughts and discuss the issues with young leaders. And, I found these engagements to be both heartening and enlightening. Given the challenges of climate change as a risk-multiplier across our region, I believe that the timing of the Pacific Security Scholars Program is critical. Through the program, the Pacific Islands Society (PacSoc) offers a unique balance of mentorship, structure, networks, and generous insight to young leaders.’

Image Credit: DoD Inspector General (Flickr CC)