April 2021, Suva, Fiji – The Prime Minister of Fiji Voreqe Bainimarama has called on young people to drive climate action in the country and set an example for the world.
“Your nation is setting an example we hope the entire world will follow. And by acting now, each of you – the young hearts and minds in this room – will drive action in your homes and classrooms, in your communities, in all of Fiji, in the Pacific region, and the world over,” the Prime Minister said while opening the first Fijian National Youth Climate Action Summit.
One youth climate activist Timoci Naulusala appealed to over 200 youth participants to become agents of change.
“Climate Change is a big challenge for all of us. No matter where we live, let us all become agents of change so that ultimately, we can make Fiji better,” he said.
During the three day Summit, participants discussed climate change and how it affects the world and Fiji in particular. In group talks, lectures, presentations, videos and interactive sessions they learnt about and provided comments on Fiji’s draft Climate Change Bill.
In an impact statement that was handed over to the Fijian Government in the closing ceremony, participants called for Fijian youth to be recognized as enabling partner and not just as beneficiaries.
UN-Habitat supported the Summit as a member of the technical organizing committee. One of the sessions at the Summit was an ‘open market place’ with UN-Habitat running a station on the Fiji Resilient Informal Settlements (FRIS) project. Participants learnt how climate change particularly affects informal settlements, and what adaptation options are feasible.
Usenia and Vika from Vuna, a coastal village in Fiji told the Summit that climate change was destroying their livelihoods.
‘We live in as a coastal village and mainly depend on seafood for food and income, however in over past years we have experienced decline in the number of fish, crabs and seaweed,’ they said calling on world leaders to visit Fiji to see the challenges.
Through creative artwork and testimonials in a social media corner, participants expressed their perception of climate change and the impact it has on their lives.
UN-Habitat’s Team Leader for Urban Climate Resilience, Inga Korte, urged youth to keep making their voices heard and to remain engaged.
“A climate resilient Fiji needs committed and proactive youths that are well informed and included in the dialogue,” she said.