PACSEN (Pacific Centre for Social Responsibility and Natural Resources) keeps on exploring social and environmental justice issues related to the energy transition in the Pacific.

Following the 2020 kickoff meeting coordinated by the IRD and the University of the South Pacific (USP) at the Laucala campus in Suva, Fiji and the 2022 workshop organized co-organized by the New Caledonian Institute of Agronomy (IAC) and IRD at the Thierry Mennesson Nord Research Centre in Pouembout, New Caledonia, PACSEN has benefited from USP hospitality to organize a new workshop focusing on deep sea governance and knowledge issues at Cook Island USP Campus on July 10th, 2023.

© IRD - Pierre-Yves Le Meur

The Pacific Islands region is currently attracting unprecedented interest in its marine and land resources in the context of climate change. The exploitation of mineral resources (including oil and gas, and potentially deep-sea mineral resources) and other natural resources (such as fisheries and forests) are key areas of interest. The conservation and management of small and large scale areas (through networks of marine/forest protected areas in particular) are similarly of concern. These issues also relate to geopolitical challenges such as delimitation of maritime boundaries and continental shelf extension and, therefore, sovereign rights over natural resources in new areas. Last, but not least, energy transition-related challenges are clearly on everyone’s minds.

Bringing together Pacific-based institutions and universities, PACSEN addresses the critical issues of territorial governance and natural resources with a focus on social responsibility, equity and sustainable development. This project is part of a French international scientific coordination network for emerging countries in the South, an International Research Network (IRN).

PACSEN’s overall objective is to contribute to the development of integrated, responsible and sustainable management of natural resources in order to improve the well-being of people across the South Pacific. As a result, the network combines basic research and applied/policy-oriented research to improve exchanges between academics, policy makers, customary authorities and civil society/indigenous organizations, with a view to strengthening the capabilities and expertise of all these actors in terms of territorial governance and natural resources. PACSEN is also intended to be a place where students, PhD students and young researchers in the Pacific working on these topics can interact and discuss ideas.


The PACSEN 2023 workshop focused on the topical issue of deep-sea mining and, more broadly, on the knowledge and governance of the deep sea. The event was hosted by the USP Cook Islands Campus (thanks to her Director, Prof. Debi Futter-Puati) and gathered a group of diverse actors involved in the deep sea arenas mainly in the Cook Islands but also in French Polynesia and beyond. Exchanges were lively, respectful and productive, mainly around what the social science perspective can bring to the issue, for example in terms of stakeholder analysis, social impact assessment, governance and policy-making mechanisms, science and technology studies, and cognitive and normative pluralism.

Connections were established with PACSEN-related initiatives, especially around the extractive industry-energy transition-climate change nexus viewed from a justice standpoint, whether it be social and environmental, procedural, distributive or restorative justice. In the coming months, PACSEN will serve as a platform and facilitator for the implementation of a larger project on this topic led by colleagues from The University of St Andrews (Scotland) and The University of Queensland (Australia).

One of PACSEN’s objectives is to make accessible and share information with governments, local communities, customary authorities and NGOs, in order to support actors when resource development projects are initiated. In this respect, PACSEN is working to bring together collective expertise on deep sea knowledge and governance issues (2023-2026) focusing on New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, and the Clarion-Clipperton Area, including comparison and exchanges with the Pacific Island Countries and Territories.


Next steps :

  • A short meeting is planned in August 2023 in Brisbane for the preparation of the application PASCEN will submit to IRD for 4 more years of collaborative work and Pacific networking.
  • A regional workshop on deep sea knowledge and governance issue will take place in Noumea in March 2024 organized by IRD and hosted by SPC as part as the collective expertise on the topic launched in June 2023


    Participants to the 3rd PACSEN workshop :

    Nick Bainton (Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining/CSRM, University of Queensland, Australia), Kaitini Herman (Seabed Minerals Authority, Cook Islands), Pierre-Yves Le Meur (Research Institute for Sustainable Development/IRD, New Caledonia), Tanga Morris (Seabed Minerals Authority, Cook Islands), Frank Murphy (Tetiaroa Society/Blue Climate Initiative, French Polynesia), Hinano Teavai Murphy (Tetiaroa Society/Blue Climate Initiative, French Polynesia), John Parianos (Seabed Minerals Authority, Cook Islands), Kelvin Passfield (Te Ipukarea Society, Cook Islands), Ben Ponia (Cook Islands Prime Minister Office), Emilka Skrzypek (Saint-Andrews University, Scotland), Alanna Smith (Te Ipukarea Society, Cook Islands), Makiuti Tongia (Seabed Minerals Advisory Committee, Cook Islands), Merita Tuarii (Te Puva Vai Maama/Cook Islands Centre for Research)



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