Right now, the Pacific Island nation of Palau is in a State of Emergency. Super Typhoon Bopha just ripped across the islands, causing what President Toribiong called “catastrophic destruction”. While there is no reported loss of life yet, the winds and storm surge resulted in “scores of people … rendered homeless for the foreseeable future.”
As you can see, our friends in Palau have been a big part of the 350.org movement in the last few years. Earlier this year in preparation for the Connect the Dots day of action, we worked with our team there (led by Leonard Basilius at the Palau Community Action Agency) to hold the 350 Palau Youth Climate Leadership workshop. It’s really tough to know them personally, know that they’re hurting right now, and there’s not much we can do to help.
The most important thing we can do is stand is solidarity with them, make sure their story is heard, and keep organising and fighting to move the world beyond fossil fuels. I’m writing this from Auckland, New Zealand – where we are half way through the Pacific Youth Looking Beyond Disaster forum, which is a collaboration with UNESCO New Zealand. We just held a minute of silence in prayer for our brothers and sisters from Palau.
The forum is made up of 50 young people from across New Zealand the South Pacific Islands, from Tokelau to Kiribati. We’ve been – as the name suggests – sharing stories of facing and recovering from disasters. We’ve also been planning a Pacific wide climate campaign – to be launched in a couple of days time, at Power Shift NZ-Pacific.
Starting on Friday, we’ve got 700 young people converging for Power Shift NZ-Pacific, where we’ll be hearing from the likes of Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein to our Pacific organisers like Christina Ora and Brianna Fruean. Never before has the climate movement in the South Pacific come together like this. We’ll report back on that soon, but for now, we’re sending strength, hope and solidarity to our friends in Palau.