The proposal to establish a regional think tank at the old ASOPA site – an institution which maintains the traditions of ASOPA in a 21st century context – has caught the imagination of people who have a strong association with PNG and the Pacific. ASOPA PEOPLE has been deluged with more than 500 hits on the matter in a little over 24 hours.
I shouldn’t really refer to the proposal as promoting a ‘think tank’: a somewhat derogatory term for a place designed to bring together people from the region, including Australians, to address the great regional issues they face and to develop solutions to these challenges.
In concentrated four-week programs, participants will address some of the most pressing problems in the region - for example, global warming, migration, terrorism, health, education. They will receive high-level briefings from Australian experts and then consider the subject in depth over a period of two weeks, through research, dialogue, analysis, modelling, solution development and decision-making.
It is then intended there will be a public conference based around the subject matter where participants and other experts will present papers. Finally, there will be a report produced, including actions that participants will commit to.
The School of the Pacific is expected to bring together people from different nationalities to acquire and share knowledge on critical matters affecting the region and their own countries. They will form new relationships, including with Australian professionals, and develop new networks in their areas of professional activity or expertise.