The Pacific Connect program continues to build on its online engagement through convening the first of many planned Virtual Dialogues. The theme for the Dialogue was Technology and Water Sustainability: Building Water Resilience in the Solomon Islands, and was held on Thursday 28 May. Twenty-one emerging leaders from Australia, Solomon Islands and Fiji took part in the five-hour event. Discussions led to three promising project concepts, creation of new networks and a new cohort of participants from a variety of backgrounds forming collaborative relationships.
The Virtual Dialogue brought together 10 Australians, 8 Solomon Islanders and 1 Fijian to turn a passion for water sustainability into action. The group comprised emerging leaders from government, academia, technology, hydrology, and health. They were encouraged to discuss the challenges and opportunities regarding water management and sustainability in the country, and there was a strong focus in collaborative sessions on how technology solutions can be applied to improving the water security of not only the Solomon Islands, but also the wider region.
Before the Virtual Dialogue, participants were invited to share what they can offer to their fellow cohort regarding assistance in developing projects to overcome water management challenges in-country. These ‘ask and offer’ snippets allowed our co-facilitators to create thought clusters on the day where groups of like-minded participants and subject matter experts collaborated to develop a project idea. The ultimate goal of the discussion was to develop a pitch to the larger cohort at the end of the day which could be further refined by the project team in the longer term.
The action got underway at 10:00am Australian time with an introduction to Pacific Connect and ICDP by Simone Pensko, Chief Executive, ICDP. Co-Facilitators Shaun Kies-Ryan and James Kana then engaged the participants with introductions and run-throughs of current Pacific Connect Community projects which have received ongoing support and funding.
Three thought clusters were formed, focusing on data mapping and catchment management, regulation enforcement and improved education, and capacity building and service delivery, respectively. After many hours of lively and constructive discussion, the groups joined to present their detailed pitches to facilitators, ICDP team and fellow attendees.
All in all, it was a successful first attempt at moving our convening style to the virtual world, and we will continue to adapt and improve our online experience for participants in building relationships between Australia and the Pacific. We are excited to welcome 15 new emerging leaders to our fast-growing network of change makers and look forward to seeing these projects grow!