OPINION: EU Pacific’s Loss, UNESCAP’s Gain

The European Union will miss Debbie Singh, its former press officer in Suva. She takes up her new appointment as communication specialist for UNESCAP’s Pacific Climate Change Migration Programme in
20 Jun 2015 16:43
OPINION: EU Pacific’s Loss, UNESCAP’s Gain
Debbie Singh

The European Union will miss Debbie Singh, its former press officer in Suva.

She takes up her new appointment as communication specialist for UNESCAP’s Pacific Climate Change Migration Programme in Suva next Monday.

She was one of the key figures responsible for the significant lift in the EU profile in Fiji and the Pacific.

After working as a media consultant for EU for a number of years, she joined it as a permanent employee last year.

It has not been an easy decision for her to leave EU. Not only has she enjoyed the EU environment, professional development and friendship, she was one of those who have been instrumental in building the EU brand as a development partner in the region.

The profile of the EU and its visibility has increased by over 300 per cent in the past year.

In addition, EU’s our social media presence has increased by 600 per cent – going from 617 “Likes” on Facebook when she took up her contract last April to over 3800 “Likes” today!

The EU website is also now current and has revamped content. It has consolidated its messaging and media engagement.

Over the past year, the EU has established communications systems and procedures with its partners and has stepped up its engagement via joint events, joint press releases and communicating stories of change and impact.

With the leadership of EU Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific Andrew Jacobs, Ms Singh has excelled.

It’s this kind of success that UNESCAP wants Ms Singh to replicate in helping to raise public awareness about climate change in this part of the world.

UNESCAP (United Nations Economic Social Commission for Asia Pacific) has stepped up its efforts on climate change

It is buoyed by the strong Fijian stand on climate change spearheaded by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

UNESCAP is strategically located in Suva at Kadavu House because Fiji is now generally regarded as the hub of the Pacific.

Climate change is not a new area for Ms Singh. She was involved in the climate campaign at EU. The EU is a world leader in the fight to cut carbon emissions. Climate change was one of several development issues that she covered.

At UNESCAP she will focus entirely on climate change.


Great asset

Ms Singh will be a great asset to UNESCAP because she has had 27 years of experience in the area of media and strategic communications. She has developed and run communications and advocacy training programmes in Fiji and the Pacific Island region over the past 10 years and developed and implemented Communications Strategic Plans for various international and regional organisations.

She studied at the University of the South Pacific (USP) and Central Queensland University. She also taught English at the University of Central Queensland.

She began her career in journalism, rising to editor of the once strong   Pacific Islands Monthly.

She has worked in a communications capacity with international organisations such as the EU, AusAID, New Zealand High Commission and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) as well as with various donor supported programs.

She has excellent contacts with the local and regional media in Fiji, the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand. Ms Singh also worked in the area of gender and development with women’s organisations, NGOs and international development partners in Fiji, Asia, Europe and the Pacific.

Professional Experience

At the EU Pacific Delegation she was responsible for providing strategic communication expertise and advice to the EU Ambassador and Delegation. She did it by assisting with the preparation of speeches and briefings for the Ambassador and accompanying him to all media related public events.

She also managed media and visibility for all high level EU visits to the Pacific such as visits by the EU Development Commissioner Neven Mimica and High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy.

She has worked for Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) HQ in New Caledonia as Women’s Information Officer and with Greenpeace International as South East Asia Press Officer based in Jakarta. She has organised and facilitated many communications capacity building workshops in Fiji, New Caledonia, Tonga and Samoa.

She has extensive knowledge of the communications landscape in the Pacific. She also understands the Pacific region and its challenges – with climate change being among those at the forefront.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. Made up of 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members, with a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, and from the Russian Federation in the north to New Zealand in the south, the region is home to 4.1 billion people, or two thirds of the world’s population.

This makes ESCAP the most comprehensive of the United Nations five regional commissions, and the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region with over 600 staff.

With its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, UNESCAP works to overcome some of the region’s greatest challenges by providing results oriented projects, technical assistance and capacity building to member States in the following areas:

  • Sustainable Development
  • Macroeconomic Policy and Development
  • Trade and Investment
  • Transport
  • Social Development
  • Environment and Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Statistics
  • Sub-regional activities for development

The Pacific Climate Change and Migration (PCCM) Project, entitled ‘Enhancing the Capacity of Pacific Island Countries to Manage the Impacts of Climate Change on Migration’, is a three year project (2013-2016) funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The reality is Ms Singh will continue to add value to the EU presence in Fiji and the Pacific while working at PCCM, as it is supported by her previous employer.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj


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