At Pacific youth consultation, a cry to “save our lives, save our seas, save our land”

by Cheon Young Cheol

Twenty-seven young people from ten CWM Member Churches in the Pacific, eight of them from the CWM Training In Mission (TIM) programme, gathered in Funafuti, Tuvalu, from 7-14 September for a consultation on climate justice.

The consultation aimed to empower youth, promote interdisciplinary learning, recognize the value of Indigenous knowledge, and ultimately lead to concrete actions.

In addition to enhancing their understanding of climate change, developing critical skills, and becoming advocates for change, participants heard from renowned eco-theologian Prof. Ernest Conradie from the University of Western Cape in South Africa.

Tuvalu is emblematic of the existential threat faced by low-lying nations in the face of climate change. By concentrating on climate justice, the consultation addressed the urgent need to advocate for equitable solutions to climate-related issues.

That urgent need was expressed by a TIM participant from the Pacific who reflected that Pacifika youths currently are born out of a cry. “A cry to save our lives, to save our seas, save our lands, especially our cry to save the memories we shared in our lands with our parents, with our grandparents and now our ancestors. Oh, we are drowning!”

The young people participated in hands-on activities such as coral planting, mangrove planting, and airport cleanup. Coral planting and mangrove planting are essential for environmental conservation since coral reefs and mangrove ecosystems play crucial roles in coastal protection, biodiversity preservation, and climate resilience.

Airport cleanup activities engaged participants with the local community and demonstrated the importance of community involvement in environmental stewardship.

“I am deeply inspired by the passion and commitment of the young participants in this consultation,” said Rev. Daimon Mkandawire, CWM Mission Secretary – Ecology and Economy. “Their active involvement in environmental activities like coral planting and mangrove restoration, alongside their engagement in discussions on climate justice, showcases the power of youth to drive positive change. Together, we are sowing the seeds of a sustainable and just future, not only for Tuvalu and the Pacific but for our planet as a whole.”

The event concluded with a sense of renewed purpose and determination among the participants. Participants left with concrete action plans, including coral and mangrove planting initiatives, advocacy efforts, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation. They carried with them a deeper understanding of the climate crisis, the importance of Indigenous knowledge, and the need for youth involvement in climate decision-making processes.

The event’s conclusion marked the beginning of a journey towards a more sustainable and just future for Tuvalu and the broader Pacific region. Youth participants were united in their mission to protect their lands, seas, and cultural heritage from the threats of climate change, and expressed their determination to continue their efforts beyond the event.

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