S’Pacif­i­cally Speak­ing: Our Own Moana!

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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.

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