UNEVOC@RMIT and RSA (Oceania): Imagining regenerative work and sustainable development in the Pacific

(Scott Phillips is also a Director of RSA Oceania.)

Since 2018 the UNEVOC@RMIT Centre and RSA Oceania have been developing a collaborative partnership to build an action research agenda for sustainable development in the Pacific region. 

  • RSA Oceania is part of RSA Global which is a global network of some 30,000 social change makers known as Fellows. As such, RSA Oceania is one of two RSA global affiliates, the other being in the USA. RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) believes that everyone should have the freedom and power to turn their ideas into reality – and this Power to Create is at the centre of its vision for enabling social innovation grounded in people’s local and lived experiences.
  • UNEVOC@ RMIT University is a leader in facilitating co-design approaches for creating a future of sustainable development for all young people in times of crisis and disruption. UNEVOC@RMIT partners with government, industry, and the not-for-profit sectors to lead applied and research-based activities, with a focus on:
    • Young people, 21st Century capabilities, and transitions in the future of work;
    • Building a networked approach to enabling and capturing social value in learning and training;
    • Exploring educational ecologies of well-being, resilience, and enterprise.

Prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, these two organisations have explored ways to imagine regenerative work futures for young people in the Pacific region.

  • UNEVOC@RMIT is working with UNESCO in the Pacific to assist with strengthening the role of TVET in shaping the skills young people will need to thrive in the new economies of the small island developing countries.
  • In Melbourne UNEVOC@RMIT is researching and sharing its findings on scenarios for developing inclusive social and economic futures in Melbourne.
  • UNEVOC@RMIT and RSA Oceania have been co-hosting ‘Pedagogy in the Pub’, a series of discussions where invited speakers critically engage with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
  • RSA Oceania has run forums and events in Australia and New Zealand on work done by the RSA Action and Research Centre and its Future of Work Centre in London, to consider how the world of work will be affected by technologies and mega trends in the twenty-first century as well as the possibilities for inclusive growth.
  • Also in 2020, RSA Oceania and the RSA Sustainability Network co-hosted a six part online events series, ‘Bridges to the Future: From crisis to sustainability’, that enabled RSA Fellows globally to consider how to design a more resilient, socially just and sustainable post COVID world.

The challenge now is to map out an agenda for future action research collaborations in Oceania. Each organisation brings common strengths to this task.

RSA Oceania services Fellows in Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Aside from the UK and US, Oceania has the next largest concentration of Fellows globally, with over 450 Fellows in the region.

RSA Oceania is strongly committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a coherent global framework to support collaborative social innovation and a shared basis for achieving change within complex adaptive systems. The SDGs inform RSA Oceania’s current focal program ‘Regenerative Futures’. This work has three pillars: climate change, inclusive economies, and indigenous wisdom.

Similarly, UNEVOC at RMIT orients all of its activities towards meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically:

As we consider our approach to shaping action research collaborations we envisage RSA Oceania and UNEVOC@RMIT working with research partners (such as UNEVOC Centres elsewhere in the South Pacific as well as academics and RSA Fellows in Fiji and New Zealand) to:

  • link social innovators into our RSA and UNEVOC ideas platforms ;
  • provide mentoring opportunities for growing local/regional projects to develop regenerative futures in the Oceania region
  • secure funding for promising projects in Oceania which draw upon indigenous wisdom and help to meet the SDGs;
  • recognise and promote excellence of achievement in working towards regenerative economies in the region.

These sorts of collaborations could effectively help us to achieve RSA Oceania’s and UNEVOC@RMIT’s key objectives about growing and diversifying the network of change makers in the region, developing an action research program, and building our capacity to grow and have impact for sustainable development. And it would ensure that we make progress on those objectives in an evidence-informed and grounded way.


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