09 Nov ‘May we be healers, not harmers’ – a Pasifika plea at COP23
8 November, 2017. Bonn, Germany – In a moving and poignant ceremony, the 350 Pacific Climate Warriors presented their Declaration on Climate Change to key Pacific environment leaders here at the UN Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany.
Signed by more than 23,000 people, the #HaveYourSei campaign also garnered millions of shares and views on social media. It helped mobilise Pasifika youth across the diaspora, in particular Australia, New Zealand and the USA, giving them the opportunity to participate in a global environmental movement which is Pacific Island birthed and centred.
Held in the TALANOA gathering place in the Bonn Zone, the presentation opened with a lotu and blessing offered by Climate Warrior, Reverend James. Calling the work of the Pacific Climate Warriors “both foretelling and forthtelling” he prayed for an increased spiritual awareness of the earth and ocean, asking, “May we be healers, not harmers.”
Samoa was a key presence in the event, with Jacynta Faamau performing a Siva to the timeless sounds of Vaniah Toloa’s, ‘Samoa e, maopo’opo mai’. The song tells of the Toloa – a native species of duck – which is a great wanderer but always returns to its birthplace, no matter how far away it flies. Likewise, Samoans wherever they go, know that Samoa will always be their home. Thus the importance of the Climate Warriors work, “Because everyone deserves to have a home to come home to.”
Faamau is the 350 Pacific Co-ordinator in Melbourne, Australia. During the siva, a slideshow played of images from Samoa, including photos of the #HaveYourSei signing event held last month.
Representatives from Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Tonga and Tokelau also shared stories and video commentaries about the work in their respective countries.
There was great applause and cheering from the audience when the Tokelauan representative challenged the rest of the world to follow their example as the world’s first nation to be 100% powered by renewable energy. “We all stand together as one family,” they said, and then continued with a call to “Kick the big polluters out of climate talks!”
The Declaration was printed on tapa cloth, and framed copies were presented to key Pacific environment leaders, including Francois Martel, the Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Development Forum and the former President of Kiribati and global advocate and climate warrior, Anote Tong.
350 Pacific is a youth led grassroots network from the Pacific Islands, working with communities to fight climate change. They work with organisers across 15 Pacific Island nations to highlight the vulnerabilities of island countries to climate change while showcasing their strength and resilience as a people.
They facilitate workshops to educate and empower youth in the region, organise action days to raise awareness and also participate in the UN climate negotiations. A key focus for 350 Pacific is mobilising the warriors of the Pacific Islands to challenge the fossil fuel industry.