Pacific Island students call for climate action at COP23 global conference
BONN, GERMANY, 15 November 2017 – Timoci Naulusala, 12, and Shalvi Shakshi, 10, together with their proud parents arrived in Bonn, Germany, this week to tell their stories of climate change impacts in Fiji, and how they coped with the devastation of Cyclone Winston. They are calling on world leaders to commit to climate action to protect their homes, and those of all Pacific Island children.
“Climate change is like a thief in the night, said Timoci, from Tailevu province in Fiji, “It not only steals, but kills and destroys. If we don’t act now there might not be a future for the entire human race.”
In September, the students participated in a nationwide speech competition in Fiji as part of a month of climate action in schools across the country.
UNICEF Pacific Representative, Mr Sheldon Yett, said, “We are really proud of Timoci and Shalvi for so confidently representing their schools, communities, country and region at this global climate conference. They have seen first hand the devastating impacts of climate change in Fiji. Now they are educating their peers on how to prepare for disasters and their stories will move everyone who hears them speak this week in Bonn.”
In the world, four out of the top 10 countries affected by disasters are in the Pacific region: Vanuatu, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
“We have witnessed far too many impacts of climate change in the Pacific region. As the number of natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and droughts increase in frequency and intensity so will the risks for our children, especially those children living in hard to reach places who are the most vulnerable to these impacts,” said Mr Yett.
UNICEF is supporting the Ministries of Education in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Tonga to roll out a disaster resilience education programme. This helps school students prepare for future climate risks, such as having safe spaces in case of emergency and evacuation plans in place for school students.
As Shalvi explained while speaking in Bonn, “I told everyone about the water problems in my community, some parts of Fiji experience floods, but in my district there is drought and no water for the farmers. And when Cyclone Winston hit my community, families had to move into my classroom and the local shopkeepers gave these families food while they took shelter there.
The Fijian students will participate in several events during the COP23 climate change conference, including a Youth Climate Activists Activate Talk, Climate Comic Contest on Instagram, youth takeover on Twitter and a child rights, climate change and climate action youth-led event. Timoci will take centre stage tomorrow to present his speech to world leaders and governments, including the Prime Minister of Fiji and incoming President of COP23, Mr. Frank Bainimarama, and the Attorney-General of Fiji, Mr. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
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