The Pacific climate warriors are in Samoa for their Pacific fossil free gathering.
All around the world, different communities and groups that come under the umbrella of 350.org come together to have their own fossil free gathering.
According to Samoa’s Pacific Climate Warrior, Brianna Fruean, this retreat is the first time that they’ve had a regional gathering in Samoa.
“Normally we will meet up in Fiji but the team here in Samoa did a real push that we share it amongst the countries,” said Brianna.
“Having it here in Samoa is very special because our past leader was also Samoan. It also showed that Fiji is passing the baton to Samoa and gives team Samoa an opportunity to step up.”
Pacific Climate Warrior, Fenton Lutunatabua, of Fiji, told the Samoa Observer the focus for this gathering was mainly about growing their collective, as well as deciding what their next move entailed.
Mr. Lutunatabua’s journey with the Pacific Climate warriors began in 2013 when he met other global youth leaders like Brianna at a global climate event in Instanbul. Together with 15 other Pacific Islanders, they realised that they shared common view and values.
“When we met, we realised that the story told about the Pacific Islands in the climate discourse was inauthentic to them,” said Mr. Lutunatabua.
“Those stories only painted us as mere victims of climate change just waiting for a handout. So we wanted to reclaim that narrative, the innovativeness of our young people and the wisdom from our elders and their traditional knowledge and how we use that to live a sustainable life.
“At this gathering, we specifically want to focus on that the Pacific, in many ways, can show the world what true climate leadership looks like.”
“A lot of that is involving young people and building power from the ground up. In these trainings we are discussing ways in which we can work with our people, our youth groups, our church groups, our communities to really stay committed to telling the stories, using our moral voices of why it’s so important that the world moves away from using fossil fuels because we know the impact fossil fuels have on our island homes and making a condition to a 100 percent community led renewable energy that is both fair and just.”
Moving forward, the Pacific Climate Warriors intend to find ways to empower their youth in the Pacific at the grass roots level by working with their local community groups particularly the church.
“We’ve been speaking a lot about what we want to do next,” said Brianna. “Last year we had #haveyourseicampaign and where to now? We have a lot about renewable energy and how we want to really push our community levels to push for renewable energy in our islands so we can model what a fossil free country looks like.
“It’s also about how we can grow the movement. We have a lot of interest from the N.U.S. students joining us. For Samoa, it’s about how we can get more young people involved in this work.
“And then we are looking at working with our churches, which is very big in the Pacific and Samoa and how we can work with our grassroots community to really grow the movement towards climate justice for us in the Pacific.”
The fossil free retreat took place at Rita’s Lodge in Lotopa. It started on Monday and was attended by representatives from 14 different Pacific countries who are part of the climate organisation, 350.0rg.