Traditional practices and culture in the Pacific are already at risk from climate change. During a Sei* Festival of Pacific culture and arts, Pacific Climate Warriors from Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu showcased their culture and told stories of how climate change impacts their lives.
*The Sei is a flower worn behind the ear, and an important part of Pacific culture representing the joyful and resilient spirits of Pacific Islanders.
This video shows clips from our first event, our "Sei Festival", where we shared our cultures and our strong desire to fight for our islands.The Pacific Climate Warriors have been in Germany for COP23 for around a week now, and we're hoping we've left lasting impressions on people.
Posted by 350 Pacific on Thursday, November 9, 2017
The People’s Climate Summit in Bonn, which started last Friday and ended on Monday, is a vital space for all people to learn about the global causes and impacts of the climate crisis. It’s a place for people to connect, share personal stories and find new ways for the growing movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground and build a just,100% renewable economy that works for all.
Brianna Fruean, Climate Warrior from Samoa, knows why we need to come together as a transnational movement: “Climate change knows no bounds. It’s a crisis that is affecting and will continue to affect you, me and the places that we call home. If we don’t stand up in the face of climate change, who will?”
Pelenise Alofa from Kiribati opened the events. “This evening is not really about the vulnerability but the values of the people of the Pacific.” After sharing powerful and touching messages from home, she concludes: “Those are some of the messages from Kiribati…this evening we want you to understand that you cannot afford to lose the Pacific. We cannot.”
Litia Malikano Maiava from Tokelau, a small Pacific Island with a population of 1500, gave the audience something to cheer about: “Although we are the smallest island in the world, we are the first nation in the world to rely on 100% renewables.” People from Germany and many other countries in the world want to see this happen where they live. They want coal, oil and gas to be kept in the ground because they know the damage the fossil fuel industry does to our planet and our species.
“If we don’t do something about this, we, Tokelau will be the first nation to go under water. We don’t want that. That is why, I, a Tokelau Climate Warrior, am here to fight – to deliver my message to the world: The Pacific is here in Bonn because we are not drowning, we are fighting!”
Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands performed a poem to share about her culture, her home and climate change. She framed it as a rare chance for people around the world, who often talk of climate change’s threat to the Marshall Islands, to actually hear direct voices of people living there.
Pacific Islanders don’t want to leave their homes. With rising sea levels and breaking ecosystems, the homes of the people in the Pacific islands are under threat right now.
Make no mistake. This threat is already coming our way in Germany and Europe. We see more frequent and stronger storms in the North Sea that threaten our islands there. We see more heat waves in our cities, and people dying from them. Farmers are struggling due to intense temperatures that affect their crops. Torrential rain floods our rivers, villages and cities.
The Warriors spoke with courage and determination, hope and optimism, sadness in the light of the loss and damage they have to face already, and resolve in continuing their path to fight the climate crisis. It is clearer than ever that we need to act together with the people of the Pacific and all people affected by climate change: We need to confront those who are responsible for the delay of the coal phaseout in Germany. We need to confront those who want to keep burning dirty fossil fuels around the world. We cannot afford to lose the Pacific Islands to climate change and we cannot afford the destruction of our home – our planet, our earth.
We, all, are not drowning – we, all, are fighting.
The German Fossil Free movement and the 350.org Europe team want to thank all Pacific Climate Warriors that were in Bonn during the Sei Festival. You brought us a message of courage and urgency, a message of resolve and collective power, a message of responsibility and hope. Thank you Brianna Fruean, Litia Maiava, Pelenise Alofa, Jacynta Fuamatu, Billy Cava, Lusia Tuaoi Feagaiga, Silivesiteli Loloa, Isso Nihmei, Juliana Pita, Fredrick Limai and Fenton Lutunatabua and Joseph Zane Zikulu who along with many others helped make the Sei Festival happen.