Brianna tackles climate change at Oceania 21 SummitApril 29th, 2015
Speaking before schoolchildren, sharing experiences at a community meeting and presenting to scientists and PhD students in New Caledonia has been all in a day’s work for Brianna Fruean, Pacific Region Commonwealth Youth Award winner 2015.
Brianna is attending the Oceania 21 Summit in New Caledonia engaging with young people on a Regional Resilience to Climate Change Workshop, as part of her Pacific Youth Ambassador role.
She blogs about her experiences in New Caledonia so far:
Saturday, 25 April 2015
On Friday I arrived in beautiful Ouvea, a little island of just over 4000 people, where I was to attend a workshop on Regional resilience to climate change and its consequences. We arrived on island and straight away got into the field exercise part of the workshop, making our way to a school visit which I was making a presentation for.
We arrived at a little Catholic school sitting right opposite the beautiful turquoise Ouvea waters. The school reminded me of a little version of my own, with boys and girls playing basketball in the hall and two girls sitting underneath a tree braiding each other’s hair.
Their teachers called them in to class where our presentations and talks would take place. My colleague from Kiribati presented first and she started by asking the students “does anyone here want to be an environmentalist?” and the room went silent and they all turned to look at each other but not a single hand went up.
When it got to my time to present I told the students how I got to be the SPREP youth ambassador and why it’s so important they look after their paradise and too become strong voices for their islands. I also informed them of the youth platforms Pacific Youth Environment Network and that they can join, and as I waited for the translator to translate my message into French I could see a group of teenage girls in front looking at each other nodding and whispering to each other with such intrigue and I could slowly see the interest scale of the students go up.
After my presentation one of their teachers asked them “who wants to do what this young woman does?” I was so nervous that nobody would put their hand up so I looked away but to my surprise all I could hear was “oui, oui, oui” and when I turned around the whole classroom had their hands up.
It was so touching to know that within less than an hour a room of students went from not wanting to be an environmentalist (which I think is really just because they didn’t think they could be) to being so excited to become one. This school visit has no doubt been the highlight of my trip so far, but I still look forward to Oceania 21 and see if it is able to top my priceless experience with the students of Ouvea.
Monday 27 April, 2015
I woke up in sunny Noumea today and had an early start to the concluding day of the Regional Resilience to Climate Change and its consequences workshop. It was a day full of dense presentations and tense discussions.
The morning presentations were all in full French and had me wishing I knew more than just “Bonjour”. But thanks to modern technology and my new translator app I was able to follow the main messages of the French presentations at the same time adding more words to my bilingual vocabulary. After lunch we went into the English part of the day where I was first up on the line up to present. I spoke about youth and climate change in the Oceania, and the three levels at which youth have been addressing climate change;
- Grassroots Level
- Activism Level
- Policy Level.
I got the impression that a lot of my audience didn’t even know the youth in their countries were running these different climate change programs, so it was great just creating awareness of the amazing work Oceania youth have been doing for their countries.
Other presentations to take place after me included thought provoking presentations about climate change in low lying Pacific islands and my personal favourite of the day ‘using innovative technology to adapt to climate change’.
Before waking up this morning to the bright Noumea sun I didn’t know about the method of using drones to track climate change, how to carry out 3D mapping or that “catastrophe” is “disaster” in French. Now I can sleep tonight knowing more than yesterday and ready for Oceania 21 tomorrow.
For more information about the summit, and Brianna’s role as Pacific Youth Ambassador, visit the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme’s website.