A panel for youth at the second National Climate Change Dialogue injected the passion and role of young leaders in social media, waste management, and the environment in combating climate change.
Panel speakers included five “Earth Champions” — AJ Alik, Bryant Zebedy, Brandon Nathan, Walter Jinuna, and Cansecho Carmel — from the non-profit organization Jo-Jikum, and RMI EPA staff Kristina Reimers.
AJ and Bryant demonstrated the power of social media, emphasizing its vital role in pushing forward any issue on a global platform. The first hashtag campaign, #1.5tostayalive, went viral with thousands of responders to AJ’s initial post that called for support for the Paris agreement in 2015. Marshallese and non-Marshallese alike responded by sharing creative photos of lush island scenery, a vibrant RMI flag, and young children overlooking a raging sea with the #1.5tostayalive slogan.
Bryant reported an upcoming campaign with the slogan, #PacificPawa (pawa being Samoan slang for ‘power’), with a windmill pikpik as a symbol to demonstrate the mix of traditional and new working together to fight climate change.
Pawa, in a way, puts the campaign in islander style, thereby empowering Oceania to “own it,” Bryant said passionately.
On waste management, which was the only area no other session discussed throughout the conference, Cansecho, Walter, and Brandon spoke about their Iokwe Bag project in the community and schools.
The project, with MAWC’s help, incorporates the use of segregation bins and environment-friendly blue trash bags.
Kristina wrapped up the panel discussion with a report on her participation at the international Laudato Si’ Conference in the Vatican, Rome. At this conference, she and Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Marshallese poet and Jo-Jikum Director, spoke for Marshallese on the theme “Saving our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth.”
Read more about this in the July 27, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.