S’Pacifically Speaking: Our Own Moana!
On the eve of the Oceans Conference in the United Nations next month, where the leaders of government and organisations will gather to discuss Sustainable Goal 14 – Life Below Water – “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. I am very proud of the efforts made by young Judith Giblin, whom I wrote about last month and who has just returned from attending the Global Greens 4th Congress in Liverpool England. Judith, 25, is an environmental scientist and I had the honour to nominate her to attend the conference on a travel grant from the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. The gathering was the first ever joint congress between the European Green Party, the Green Party of England and Wales and the Global Greens. Apart from Judith, representatives from PNG and Solomon Islands also attended as part of the Asia Pacific Green Federation. This young Masters graduate was honoured to be on a panel to discuss the strides the Pacific has made to ensure ocean sustainability. “My presentation focused mainly on our good governance, ensuring that ocean sustainability is supported and enforced in the Pacific. I presented on the policies in place that seeks to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life below Water and the policies on sustainable fisheries,” an excited Judith said on her return. “I also discussed the strides Fiji has made to be the voice of the Pacific on a global platform. Fiji will be cohosting the UN Oceans Conference, New York in June 2017 as well as be organizing the COP23 at the end of this year.” I asked her what could we do as a community to improve our environmental awareness and situation in Fiji and she responded: “The foundation is already present in Fiji. We can only build on targeting key issues that need to be addressed, such as mainstreaming gender, increasing liaisons among civil societies, government and NGOs, as well as getting baseline data in the Pacific so that we can compare it to future data that we will retrieve.” Meeting new people and being swept up in the exciting Global Young Greens movement, Judith loved the comradeship of the Pacific Islanders as they formed a united front at working sessions and at the plenary. But she was nonetheless saddened at the real heartbreak story of the people of Kiribati and the vulnerability of their beautiful islands. “The steps the people of Kiribati have made to be relocated are really unsettling, but still empowering as they acknowledge and prepare with the ‘migration with dignity’ policy. That being said, relocation is always viewed to be the very last resort for them.” Judith reminded the international participants that “the Pacific region is home to 14 countries and 8 territories, with its area comprising of 98% ocean. The ocean provides the Pacific people food security, transport, economic development, employment and cultural identity. Pacific Islanders eat 3-5 times more fish than the global average with 47% of coastal households in the Pacific earning income from selling fish. For some Pacific Island nations, commercial fishing access fees contribute up to 60% of national revenue.” “The threats to oceans are prominent in the Pacific with pollution, unsustainable fishing, tourism, development and climate change evident from our shores. My country, Fiji, has placed great importance on addressing climate change.” Judith stressed that good governance was crucial to ensuring our oceans remain sustainable. “Policies such as the Framework of Pacific Oceanscape gives a Pacific regional plan with actions and initiatives for an area of approximately 30 million sq kilometres of ocean and island ecosystems. It is an approach to ocean management that includes clear goals and activities within a framework to track progress and enhance accountability.” “This Framework for Pacific Oceanscape builds on and strengthens the Pacific Islands Regional Oceans Policy that promotes sustainable development, management and conservation of marine and coastal resources in the Pacific. This Framework for Pacific Oceanscape functions to protect, manage and sustain the cultural and natural integrity of the oceans for present and future generations, and for the broader global community.” Judith also reported on the Pacific Ocean Alliance which was established in 2014 under the Framework for Pacific Oceanscape. I believe this was formed to bring strengthened coordination and collaboration across stakeholders on cross sectoral ocean issues. “The Pacific Ocean Alliance is facilitated by the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, Dame Meg Taylor who also is the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. The Pacific Ocean Alliance is a network of private, public and civil sector representatives acting together to advance approaches to integrated ocean management.” These policies and agreements are a part and parcel of what the Pacific has made to ensure that our oceans, our livelihoods remain intact for present and future generations. Oceans have largely been influenced by climate change. The stance from local, national and regional positions has always placed importance on addressing this global crisis. People are doing what they can to impart knowledge and initiating outreach on the challenges and heartbreak that follow the losses caused. Our own ocean warrior – our own Moana! Attending the Global Greens Conference with no fanfare, no generous per diem, using public transportation and no fancy hotel, but standing up and telling our story and being nominated to be a representative for the Asia-Pacific Green Federation Women’s Network (APGFWN) in the APGF council. Thank you Judith Giblin.
Judith, second from right with fellow Pacific Island participants.
Mrs BERNADETTE ROUNDS GANILAU is a former radio personality and Member of Parliament. Now retired, she continues with her NGO work and runs her own business.