Eight Pacific Young Climate Leaders shared their experiences of climate resilience and activism in an inaugural dialogue with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General, Mr. Henry Puna on 21 October 2021.
Sharing their youth climate work experience across the region the newly formed Alliance also shared their solutions and insights on COP26 regional priorities.
These young climate leaders are Ms. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Ms. Selina Neirok Leem, Republic of Marshall Islands; Mr. Solomon Yeo, Ms. Gladys Habu, Solomon Islands; Mr. Fenton Lutunatabua, Mr. Ernest Gibson, Fiji; Ms. Stephanie Stephens, Vanuatu; and Mr. Kim Allen, Papua New Guinea.
“One of the key priorities from our perspective for COP26 is loss and damage and ensuring the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage is fully operationalized. Not only ensuring that there is a dedicated financing mechanism for loss and damage but those who are responsible are being held accountable”, Mr. Solomon Yeo, Campaign Director of the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change. This sentiment was one of many echoed by all the Pacific Young Climate Leaders that participated in the dialogue.
Ms. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Republic of Marshall Islands’ Climate Envoy and Pacific island poet highlighted the need for embedded funding support for national youth representatives involved in national-led consultations to enable their attendance at international negotiations such as the UNFCCC-COP.
Welcoming the inaugural dialogue as a chance to broaden Pacific climate conversations, Secretary-General Puna told the Alliance their many hats and networks were vital parts of the influence they wield. He said he is a strong believer in a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach to successfully address climate change.
“Therefore, the work that you do and your role as Pacific Young Climate Leaders is extremely important,” he added.
“Let me say this to you and other Pacific youth out there – you are heroes and role models for our children and future generations. You are our Pacific Change Makers that aspire to see a sustainable and resilient future for Pacific peoples,” said Mr. Puna.
The Young Climate Leaders called for transformational leadership and for young people to be included in the decision-making process as well as take ownership of the decisions that have an impact on them and our communities.