Resilient universities for resilient societies

Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting 2018 in Bali

The role of universities in combating the effects of climate change was in the spotlight today, as ACU Chief Executive and Secretary General Dr Joanna Newman addressed government ministers at the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting in Bali.

In a session chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Dr Newman argued that universities are uniquely well placed to address climate resilience – through their research, teaching, institutional practice, and engagement with communities, business, and government. Dr Newman went on to highlight the need for universities themselves – many of which have already felt the devastating impact of extreme weather – to build their resilience.

'Universities are key players in a country's economy. They are major employers, host large numbers of students, drive research and development, and play an important civic role... It's therefore important – and sound economic sense – to ensure that universities are resilient to the impacts of climate change.' she stated.

The address was also a chance to secure ministerial support for the Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network, established by the ACU in partnership with Fiji National University, the University of the South Pacific, and the University of the West Indies. This new policy network, which is set to hold its first meeting in Fiji at the end of October, links universities in climate-vulnerable settings with each other and with universities across the Commonwealth that have relevant expertise.


Dr Newman emphasised: 'This is truly a network of and for the Commonwealth – connecting universities with shared values and diverse experiences to support each other and their nations. Its value is in its contribution to global preparedness for climate change. We ask ministers to endorse the Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network as a vital tool for member countries to better understand and tackle climate change and its impact.'

The Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting was held this year in Bali, Indonesia, on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank annual gathering. The theme – 'Enhancing national capacity to reduce disaster risk' – felt sharply relevant as Indonesia deals with the devastating impact and tragic loss of life that followed last month's earthquake and tsunami.

Dr Newman met with ministers as part of an ongoing regional tour of Australia and the Pacific Islands.

For live updates and coverage, follow the conversation at #ACUpacific on Twitter.

More information

The Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network was established at the Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) earlier this year in Fiji – read more here.

For further information, please email