Amplifying Our Pacific Voice – Hear Us, See Us, Work With Us

Published: Tue 9 Nov 2021 09:01 AM
“Real” Pacific voices shared from three different perspectives was the focus of a special session at COP26 that some may call an armchair discussion, but we in the Pacific, call it a talanoa.
Held at the Moana Blue Pacific at the Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow, the event united the work of three different areas of the Pacific – Religion, NGO and Academia.
While some may call it an “armchair discussion” we in the Pacific call it a “talanoa,” and the facilitator of this conversation was Ms Tagaloa Cooper, Director of Climate Change Resilience of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
We bring you highlights from our three speakers, Ms. Lemaima Va’ai, Methodist Church in Samoa, Pacific Conference of Churches, Ecumenical Enabler for Ecological Stewardship and Climate Justice, Salā Dr George Carter, Research Fellow (DPA) Director Pacific Institute, of the Australian National University and, Mr Maina Talia of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network.
Ms Lemaima Va’ai, on her biggest challenge when it comes to ecological stewardship and climate justice.
“If I was to speak personally not challenges based on here at the COP but based on my engagement with communities is when you are talking about this climate crises and trying to bring in the theological aspect within it sometimes, they like to use The Bible and say that this climate crisis is because of God’s punishment. But that’s not the case and so it’s really hard to bring in that the aspect - trying to show that it’s not because of God’s punishment but because of human action that has caused it. For me it’s trying to get our Pacific communities to shift their mindset to it. This is the challenge I face on this journey of sharing the voice of the voiceless.”
Salā Dr George Carter, Research Fellow (DPA) Director Pacific Institute, of the Australian National University
“We hear this work over and over again – moral diplomacy, the Pacific islands provide the moral compass and that is in fact one of the greatest legacies of the Pacific Island states in international politics. That they set the agenda in terms of environmental integrity, sustainable development in terms of issues pertaining to small islands states that they are able to set the agenda and say look this is where we need the attention. But beyond agenda setting we have seen this over and over within the last 30 years of the UNFCCC that Pacific Islands states leaders, negotiators, as well as NGOs are all part and parcel of this great project. We understand at the UNFCCC there are parallel meetings happening at the same time and as we move from Paris, it really needs all different partners to participate in amplifying through a consolidated voice.”
Mr Maina Talia of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network
“The people in Tuvalu do not want to move and I think that is the basic message they have been trying to communicate in the past years that we should not look into migration as part of the solution but that we should look into other alternatives and ways that we can maintain who we are as Tuvaluans, and Pacific Islanders. In the Pacific over 90% are Christians, religious peoples, and we always fall back to our theological conscious when it comes to issues such as climate change or sea level rise and we always tend to look into The Bible and the story of Noah as default text, but I think we should move and change the narrative try to look into the story of the Good Samaritan, what does it mean to be a neighbour in this geo-political setting in the Pacific and how we can we relate South and North as neighbours. How do we treat our Pacific neighbour?”
To view the full talanoa held at Moana Blue Pacific please visit the SPREP Youtube channel.
The Amplifying our Pacific voice: hear us, see us, work with us event was held at the Moana Blue Pacific at COP26 on 4 November 2021 from 7.20 – 8.25pm Glasgow time.
The Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change is held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021.Our Islands Speak, Our Ancestors Speak at COP26
8 November 2021, COP26, Glasgow – Pacific poetry giving voice to the loss of our way of life as we know it, our homelands, and our livelihoods to climate change have been heard in the corridors of COP26 through the Mana Moana – Pacific Voices collection.
Consisting of 11 pieces of poetry showcased against digital art to create the Mana Moana – Pacific Voices collection, the poems have been a consistent part of side events that share stories from the Pacific islands.
“Our numbers are small here at this COP in Glasgow, so we have to be heard and seen in as many different ways, and spaces possible, these works are designed to take our experiences across the divide with us to Glasgow,” said Ms Tagaloa Cooper Director of Climate Change Resilience of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
Supported by Aotearoa New Zealand, SPREP have worked with Mana Moana, a collection of artists, to amplify the Pacific voice at COP26 through the Mana Moana – Pacific Voices.
‘We have a great collection of stories and art that profile the Pacific as a unique region, the Pacific people are great orators and storytellers – it’s the first time for us to undertake a project like this, but we have found it to be successful with the works moving all the see them.”
The Mana Moana – Pacific Voices spans Our Ancestors Speak, a powerful work that is a call to arms for peoples across the Pacific and globally. It was filmed in multiple locations featuring real people and voices from Aotearoa, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Torres Strait Islands and Tuvalu.
Our Islands Speak, another part of Mana Moana – Pacific Voices, culminates 10 different poems from 10 different Pacific Island poets merging with indigenous artists to create a visual, moving, digitally enhanced offering in the series of poems hand-picked by special curator Dr Karlo Mila.
The poems have been featured on the big screens within the halls of the COP26 in Glasgow, showcasing Pacific prose to those at the conference, strengthening the call for a 1.5-degrees Celsius world.
“As a Pacific poet it has been an honour to see and hear our Pacific prose resonate at COP26, we know that words are powerful at this conference, and are proud to be able to contribute – support our Pacific negotiators in some way,” said Audrey Brown-Pereira, a published Pacific poet who contributed to the Mana Moana – Pacific Voices.
“Poetry can touch people at different levels, we are pleased to share our gifts to help people understand and act upon the climate change challenges our people are experiencing, to help us make a difference and bring a 1.5-world about for our Pacific survival.”
The initiative is supported by Aotearoa New Zealand and coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme with support from many Pacific islands people, organisations and communities.
These videos have been developed to be screened during the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) COP26 and other relevant climate change events.
The Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change is held in Glasgow from 31 October – 12 November, 2021.
For further information please visit: and or contact Ms Nanette Woonton, Acting Communications and Outreach Adviser, SPREP at
To view the Mana Moana – Pacific Voices collection:

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