40 luxury Maseratis for PNG, but little effort put into climate change

Papua New Guinea has shown unwavering commitment to next month’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit with its controversial purchase of 40 Maserati luxury sedans. While preparations for APEC take priority, climate change plans are in crisis, reports Pauline Mago-King of Asia-Pacific Journalism.

Early in March, Papua New Guinea began its chairmanship of next month’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit by receiving many senior officials for the opening set of planning meetings.

The lead-up to the APEC summit, expected to become a key opportunity for PNG to unlock its economic potential, has been inundated with talks on trade and investment.

As the smallest and poorest member of APEC, Papua New Guinea has framed its chairmanship as an opportunity to cash in on the digital revolution and its benefits in connectivity and employment.

READ MORE: PNG government faces mounting pressure over Maserati splurge

The chair of APEC Senior Officials, Ambassador Ivan Pomaleu, underlined PNG’s participation in APEC as “leverage” to maintain its domestic policies according to the group.

“The work that has come out of APEC has allowed investors to come on shore and be part of our business community. You really need to think in terms of what sort of structural reform and ease of business activities we’ve been doing and that have made it possible for new investments in PNG. Those are pegged on important APEC principles.” Pomaleu told APEC Bulletin.


He added that conversations surrounding connectivity, particularly in sustainable development and climate change, were important to PNG.

A month before the summit, however, this agenda has seemingly been neglected with the import of 40 Maserati Quattroporte luxury sedans to be used by APEC leaders.

One of the controversial Maserati cars that have arrived in Papua New Guinea for APEC 2018. The market value is about re[orted;y about K229,000 (NZ$110,000) each. Image: EMTV NewsCondemned purchase
The revelation of the PNG government’s purchase of these vehicles, which range in cost between $209,000 and $345,000 in Australia, has been widely condemned as an example of poor governance at a time when the country faces pressing health, education, law and order, and environmental issues.

While PNG’s APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko has told media that the costs of the Maseratis will be recovered via prospective buyers, this remains to be seen.

A common sight of Papua New Guinean villagers travelling by canoe. Image: Sally Wilson/Pixabay Creative Commons (CC)

While the minister has not disclosed the initial costs of both the fleet and cars, PNG has unveiled plans underway to build a 400 million kina (NZ$180 million) coal-powered plant – a far cry from its attentiveness to sustainable development.

According to the Post-Courier, a memorandum of agreement has been reached “to build a coal-fired power plant in Lae”, Morobe province.

Although this agreement is a step towards meeting the energy needs of Lae consumers, it takes PNG two steps back in its commitment to mitigating climate change.

PNG’s gravitation towards cheap, non-renewable energy such as coal signals a complete disregard of its pledge to the Paris Climate Agreement.

PNG is already experiencing the effects of climate change which can be seen in the need to relocate Carteret Islanders and the dwindling access to clean drinking water, to name a few issues.

Defiant action
Despite these effects and coal being a key driver of climate change, Energy Minister Sam Basil is defiantly going ahead with building the electricity plant.

According to The National, Basil said that PNG had “been denied that right (to burn coal) for a very long time”.

He added that “big nations are not reducing [coal emission]”, thus PNG needs a quota for burning coal to provide cheaper electricity which would subsequently lead to more jobs.

Chris Lahberger from the anti-coal group, Nogat Coal PNG, told Radio NZ that this move was uneconomical despite the developer Mayur Resources’ claims of increased employment and investment in a sustainable research institute.

Although PNG is not the only developing country to have resorted to coal as a source of low-cost electricity, it does have a responsibility to its people considering the Climate Investment Fund’s investment of $25 million.

As reported by Devex, this funding is the largest with a focus on delivering “transformational change in addressing the current and future threats from climate change and related hazards in” PNG.

A snapshot of the Climate Investment Fund’s assistance to PNG indicates a key focus on building resilience in the agriculture sector along with the mitigation of climate extremes.

Climate accountability
Consequently, this begs the question of accountability in climate change aid as plans like the Mayur Resources’ coal-fired power plant are counteractive.

There is a pattern of financial aid being confined to large institutions and governments while communities suffer, as noted by Caritas New Zealand director Julianne Hickey.

“We’ve heard time and time again from the Solomon Islands through to Tonga, to Papua New Guinea, that it is not reaching those who need it most and those who’ve done the least to cause the issues of climate change,” Hickey told Radio NZ.

Apart from PNG’s plan to burn coal for electricity, it has an alarming rate of illegal logging which has adverse effects for its indigenous communities.

According to Global Witness, “tens of thousands of Papua New Guinean people are having their land stolen by their own government”.

PNG’s Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato, however, refuted this claim in an interview with Radio NZ.

He emphasised that the PNG government has taken appropriate measures with regard to the illegal logging and that a policy is underway via the Minister for Forests.

Summit talking point
Looking at climate change efforts as a whole, the minister added that it is a talking point for the APEC summit.

“It’s one of the key issues there, and what we’re doing and how the world can connect. That’s why we’ve asked the rest of the Pacific Island countries, their leaders to come so that each of them can tell their story in their own way to the leaders of the world… because the impacts of climate change are unique to each country. It’s not the one and the same.”

Talking point or not, PNG’s implementation efforts are lacking and greater accountability is required of the government.

If PNG’s absence from the High Ambition Coalition is anything to go by, it indicates poor governance to the Papua New Guineans feeling the impact of climate change.

With Fiji and the Marshall Islands leading the way in climate change efforts, PNG’s status as “big brother” not only wanes but projects corruption at its very core.

Pauline Mago-King is a masters student based at Auckland University of Technology and is researching gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea. She compiled this report for the Pacific Media Centre’s Asia-Pacific Journalism Studies course.

Twitter: @iamatalau04

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‘Most important years in history’ – last chance over climate, says UN report

Warming beyond 1.5C will unleash a frightening set of consequences and scientists say only a global transformation, beginning now, can avoid it. Climate Home News reviews the warnings in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research report released yesterday.

Only the remaking of the human world in a generation can now prevent serious, far reaching and once-avoidable climate change impacts, according to the global scientific community.

In a major report released yesterday, the UN’s climate science body found limiting warming to 1.5C, compared to 2C, would spare a vast sweep of people and life on earth from devastating impacts.

To hold warming to this limit, the scientists said unequivocally that carbon pollution must fall to “net zero” in around three decades: a huge and immediate transformation, for which governments have shown little inclination so far.

READ MORE: Global warming of 1.5C summary for policymakers


“The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” said Debra Roberts, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research into the impacts of warming.


The report from the IPCC is a compilation of existing scientific knowledge, distilled into a 33-page summary presented to governments. If and how policymakers respond to it will decide the future of vulnerable communities around the world.

“I have no doubt that historians will look back at these findings as one of the defining moments in the course of human affairs,” the lead climate negotiator for small island states Amjad Abdulla said. “I urge all civilised nations to take responsibility for it by dramatically increasing our efforts to cut the emissions responsible for the crisis.”

What happens in the next few months will impact ON the future of the Paris Agreement and the global climate

Abdulla is from the Maldives. It is estimated that half a billion people in countries like his rely on coral ecosystems for food and tourism. The difference between 1.5C and 2C is the difference between losing 70-90 percent of coral by 2100 and reefs disappearing completely, the report found.

Small island states
Small island states were part of a coalition that forced the Paris Agreement to consider both a 1.5C and 2C target. Monday’s report is a response to that dual goal. Science had not clearly defined what would happen at each mark, nor what measures would be necessary to stay at 1.5C.

As the report was finalised, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on sustainable energy Rachel Kyte praised those governments. “They had the sense of urgency and moral clarity,” she said, adding that they knew “the lives that would hang in the balance between 2[C] and 1.5[C]”.

37 things you need to know about 1.5C global warming

At 2C, stresses on water supplies and agricultural land, as well as increased exposure to extreme heat and floods, will increase, risking poverty for hundreds of millions, the authors said.

Thousands of plant and animal species would see their liveable habitat cut by more than half. Tropical storms will dump more rain from the Philippines to the Caribbean.

“Everybody heard of what happened to Dominica last year,” Ruenna Hayes, a delegate to the IPCC from St Kitts and Nevis, told Climate Home News. “I cannot describe the level of absolute alarm that this caused not only me personally, but everybody I know.”

Around 65 people died when Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island in September 2017, destroying much of it.

In laying out what needs to be done, the report described a transformed world that will have to be built before babies born today are middle aged. In that world 70-85 percent of electricity will be produced by renewables.

More nuclear power
There will be more nuclear power than today. Gas, burned with carbon capture technology, will still decline steeply to supply just supply 8 percent of power. Coal plants will be no more. Electric cars will dominate and 35-65 percent of all transport will be low or no-emissions.

To pay for this transformation, the world will have invested almost a trillion dollars a year, every year to 2050.

Our relationship to land will be transformed. To stabilise the climate, governments will have deployed vast programmes for sucking carbon from the air. That will include protecting forests and planting new ones.

It may also include growing fuel to be burned, captured and buried beneath the earth. Farms will be the new oil fields. Food production will be squeezed. Profoundly difficult choices will be made between feeding the world and fuelling it.

The report is clear that this world avoids risks compared to one that warms to 2C, but swerves judgement on the likelihood of bringing it into being. That will be for governments, citizens and businesses, not scientists, to decide.

During the next 12 months, two meetings will be held at which governments will be asked to confront the challenge in this report: this year’s UN climate talks in Poland and at a special summit held by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres in September 2019.

The report’s authors were non-committal about the prospects. Jim Skea, a co-chair at the IPCC, said: “Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”

Graphic from the IPCC’s special report on 1.5C.

‘Monumental goal’
Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a former lead author of the IPCC, said: “If this report doesn’t convince each and every nation that their prosperity and security requires making transformational scientific, technological, political, social and economic changes to reach this monumental goal of staving off some of the worst climate change impacts, then I don’t know what will.”

The scientist have offered a clear prescription: the only way to avoid breaching the 1.5C limit is for humanity to cut its CO2 emissions by 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net-zero” by around 2050.

But global emissions are currently increasing, not falling.

The EU, one of the most climate progressive of all major economies, aims for a cut of around 30 percent by 2030 compared to its own 2010 pollution and 77-94 percent by 2050. It is currently reviewing both targets and says this report will inform the decisions.

If the EU sets a carbon neutral goal for 2050 it will join a growing group of governments seemingly in line with a mid-century end to carbon – including California (2045), Sweden (2045), UK (2050 target under consideration) and New Zealand (2050).

But a fundamental tenet of climate politics is that expectations on nations are defined by their development. If the richest, most progressive economies on earth set the bar at 2045-2050, where will China, India and Latin America end up? If the EU aims for 2050, the report concludes that Africa will need to have the same goal.

Some of the tools needed are available, they just need scaling up. Renewable deployment would need to be six times faster than it is today, said Adnan Z Amin, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. That was “technically feasible and economically attractive”, he added.

Innovation, social change
Other aspects of the challenge require innovation and social change.

But just when the world needs to go faster, the political headwinds in some nations are growing. Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest, looks increasingly likely to elect the climate sceptic Jair Bolsonaro as president.

The world’s second-largest emitter – the US – immediately distanced itself from the report, issuing a statement that said its approval of the summary “should not be understood as US endorsement of all of the findings and key messages”.

It said it still it intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The summary was adopted by all governments at a closed-door meeting between officials and scientists in Incheon, South Korea that finished on Saturday. The US sought and was granted various changes to the text. Sources said the interventions mostly helped to refine the report. But they also tracked key US interests – for example, a mention of nuclear energy was included.

Sources told CHN that Saudi Arabia fought hard to amend a passage that said investment in fossil fuel extraction would need to fall by 60 percent between 2015 and 2050. The clause does not appear in the final summary.

But still, according to three sources, the country has lodged a disclaimer with the report, which will not be made public for months. One delegate said it rejected “a very long list of paragraphs in the underlying report and the [summary]”.

Republished under a Creative Commons licence.

A Nasa satellite photo showing the retreating extent of sea ice in the Arctic. The latest IPCC climate change report says unprecedented action is needed to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C. Image: IPCC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Climate change advocacy calls for more ‘action’ response to Ardern’s UN plea

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently addressed the UN General Assembly about the reality of climate change in the Pacific, and the threat inaction holds for the island nations. Maxine Jacobs reports for Asia Pacific Journalism that while climate and energy commentators welcome her leadership, they call for an even stronger “action” approach.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s challenge to United Nations members last month to reflect on the impact climate change is having on the Pacific has been welcomed by social justice advocates.

But they would like to see the rhetoric matched by even stronger action to give the world its “best shot”.

The Prime Minister spoke of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands as the Pacific’s most at risk nations which have contributed least to global emissions but are facing the full force of their consequences.


“Our actions in the wake of this global challenge remains optional, But the impact of inaction does not,” she told the UN.

“If my Pacific neighbours do not have the option of opting out of the effects of climate change, why should we be able to opt out of taking action to stop it?”

Ardern said that in the South Pacific there was a reality of rising sea levels, increases in extreme weather events and negative impacts on water supply and agriculture.


“For those who live in the South Pacific, the impacts of climate change are not academic, or even arguable.

‘Grinding reality’
“We can talk all we like about the science and what it means … but there is a grinding reality in hearing someone from a Pacific island talk about where the sea was when they were a child, and potential loss of their entire village as an adult.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s speech at the United Nations. Video: UN

Although New Zealand represents less than 0.2 percent of global emissions, the Prime Minister then vowed to “play our part” in continuing to decrease in emissions and support the global climate change battle.

Goals have been set of:

• 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2035;
• zero emissions by 2050;
• a halt on offshore oil and gas exploration permits;
• a green infrastructure fund to encourage innovation, and
• a 10-year plan to plan one billion trees.

“These plans are unashamedly ambitious [but] the threat climate change poses demands it.”

Real commitment
A few days before her address to the UN in New York, the Prime Minister announced a $100 million increase to its global climate finance – an increase from $200 million, which will be spread in $25 million blocks over four years.

The Prime Minister said the additional funding would focus on practical action, helping Pacific states to build resilience and adapt to climate change.

“The focus of this financial support is on creating new areas of growth and opportunity for Pacific communities. We want to support our Pacific neighbours to make transition to a low carbon economy without hurting their existing economic base.”

The Prime Minister said she planned to bring greater attention to the impact of climate change alongside Pacific leaders and ensure global awareness of the cost of inaction.

“We recognise our neighbours in the Pacific region are uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

“We have a responsibility to care for the environment in which we live, but the challenge of climate change requires us to look beyond our domestic boarders.”

Communications accounts manager for the Ministry for the Environment, Karen Goldsworthy, says two thirds of the global climate funding would be going towards Pacific nations to help adapt to their warming climate.

“We recognise that New Zealand alone cannot fix the challenge climate change poses to our region: it is a global problem that requires a global solution.

“New Zealand will continue to work actively to contribute to an effective global response to climate change through which Pacific resilience improves … and lose work more widely to encourage ambition through our leadership.”

A global model
Renewable energy and climate change consultant Dr Bob Lloyd, a former director of energy studies at Otago University, says New Zealand’s commitment to climate change is a show of leadership to the rest of the world of what is achievable.

Lloyd called New Zealand a small-scale model of what can be achieved on a global scale, however this issue is one which cannot be resolved by one small nation.

“It’s up to countries like Australia, New Zealand, Europe and unfortunately the US to bring their emissions down.

“The big dilemma at the moment is that a lot of the poor countries want to increase their emissions and they’re not going to consider bringing their emissions down unless the big countries bring their emissions down first.

“The other onus is on the rich countries to actually help the poor countries come down, which means they need to transfer money to them to achieve their goals.”

Lloyd said the extra $100 million from New Zealand towards the global climate change fund was a good effort but would not have a huge impact. To achieve emissions reductions, developing countries would need trillions of dollars.

“The amounts of money which are needed just for the Pacific region – which are tiny compared to the rest of the world – are enormous,” he said.

Putting over ideas
Although Lloyd, a self-proclaimed pessimist, thinks the world would not be able to outrun climate change he does not want to stop people from giving it their “best shot”.

“Without some countries trying, then the poorer countries and other countries will give up completely, so I think it’s extremely good that Jacinda is putting these ideas over and they’re trying to help as much as possible.

“She’s doing a remarkable effort. It’s also enthusing government. I was pleasantly surprised at how much influence Jacinda and the Labour Party is having on both New Zealand and internationally.”

Dr Kevin Clements, the foundation professor of Otago University’s National Centre for Peace  and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) and current director of the Japan-based Toda Peace Institute, says the Prime Minister’s plea for climate change awareness has powerful emotional and normative appeal, but at the end of the day it is a numbers game.

“Every little bit helps. New Zealand’s voice on its own isn’t going to change Donald Trump or the behaviours of the major US multinational companies, but on the other hand it’s all part of creating a normative order which acknowledges the centrality of climate change and what it’s doing to us.”

Dr Clements says the Pacific is feeling the brunt of global emissions and has little capacity to do anything about it. However, the moral weight of New Zealand and the South Pacific can help larger nations become more proactive.

The Prime Minister advocating for climate change issues humanises her, says Dr Clements, but she needs to be stronger to be seen as a serious political leader on these issues.

“She really needs to make sure she’s coupling her soft power appeal and her own personal charisma with some hard-headed arguments and evidence based research so she is seen both as a wonderful human being but equally as a hard-headed negotiator on the issues that matter.”

Maxine Jacobs is a postgraduate student journalist on the Asia Pacific Journalism Studies course at AUT University.

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Listen to Pacific ‘voices’ or climate will spark conflict, say advocates

Policy makers, academics and NGO representatives discussed the urgent issue of climate change in the Pacific, where many communities have been forced to relocate. However, Michael Andrew of Asia Pacific Report, found that participants in last weekend’s workshop believe the Pacific voices of those most affected must be heard if conflict is to be avoided.

The gap between policy and people was a key topic at the last week’s Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop when experts from Western and Pacific countries gathered to share stories and studies.

The Auckland event – hosted by the Toda Peace Institute and the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) at the University of Otago – sought to bridge the gap by connecting Western, scientific policies with the deeply spiritual customs and beliefs of Pacific life.

Workshop facilitator and Toda director Professor Kevin Clements, who is also founding director of NCPACS, says it is an opportunity to understand Pacific perspectives and respond creatively to an existential threat.

READ MORE: The climate change workshop and policy papers


“We in New Zealand and Australia have a deep responsibility to listen,” he says.

“If we don’t understand the Pacific way of thinking, we will begin to undermine relationships in unanticipated, unconscious ways.”


Relationships were a major theme throughout the workshop, with many participants affirming the unique relationship Pacific people have with their land.

Vanua philosophy
Fijian teacher Rosiana Kushila Lagi says the traditional Fiji philosophy of Vanua reflects the absolute interconnectedness between people, land and sea.

Working in Tuvalu, Lagi is engaging communities to use the principals of Vanua to mitigate the destruction caused by climate change. The behaviour of animals, plants and the weather are all useful indicators of environmental change and can be used to prepare for extreme events.

However, she says many communities are losing this traditional knowledge when they are physically separated from the land, something that also contributes to a loss of identity.

Participants of the Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop in Auckland last weekend. Image: Lynley Brown

Tuvaluan minister Tafue Lusama shared a similar perspective, stressing the importance of traditional knowledge in the Tuvalu way of life.

“Indigenous knowledge is the way we focus our relationship to everything, to the land, to the sea, to each other and to all living things,” he says.

“It is our way to communicate with the clouds, birds, plants, animals; this includes communicating with the spirits of our ancestors.”

With an average height of 2m above sea level, Tuvalu is particularly vulnerable to the affects of climate change. Rising sea levels not only threaten property but also food and water sources.

Storm surges
Storm surges can sweep inland, flooding deep-rooted crops like taro and coconut and contaminating fresh water reservoirs.

Yet for many communities who have already relocated, the struggles of adjusting to a new home can be just as harsh.

Discussed at the workshop were the people from the diminishing Carteret Islands, who in recent years have been relocated to land donated by the Catholic Church on mainland Bougainville.

Managed by grassroots organisation Tulele Peisa, the initiative sees every family given a hectare of land on which they can live and grow crops for trade and sustenance.

While the relocation project has been considered successful, there are concerns for the Cataract Islanders living in a region recovering from a bloody civil war over the Panguna copper mine. Even today, violence is widespread.

According to Volker Boege, a peace and conflict academic who has worked extensively in the region, there have been reports of attacks on the Carteret Islanders and their property.

He says this has a lot to do with tribal competition over limited land, much of which is customary.

Establishing relationships
“Before the relocation, Tulele Peisa put in a lot of work establishing relationships with the Bougainville community and engaging in discussions with the chiefs. Nevertheless, land is scarce,” Boege says.

“The policies don’t take into account the complexities between the indigenous people and the fighting that can occur between tribes when relocated.”

Despite predictions that the Carteret Islands will be completely underwater by 2040, he says some of the people are choosing to return home from Bougainville.

For these people giving up home, identity and starting a new life in a foreign land is simply too much to ask.

While other Pacific communities are on the list for relocation, there was a commitment among the workshop participants to factor in the values, customs and wishes of both the relocating and the receiving communities into any polices moving forward.

Future collaboration between the many organisations present would also allow an inclusive, dynamic approach where information could be easily shared from the top down and vice versa, connecting the grassroots to the researchers and policy makers.

Ideal outcome
For Paulo Baleinakorodawa, this was an ideal outcome of the workshop. As operations manager of Fiji-based NGO Transcend Oceania, he has worked extensively with relocated and relocating communities, resolving conflict and trying to make the process as peaceful as possible.

However, he says that plans for cross-organisation collaboration have stalled prior to the workshop.

“I was hoping that coming in here I would find an opportunity to actually push that into more actions,” he says.

“It’s been wonderful because there has been a lot of information, a lot of networking and commitment from people that are actually doing something about climate change.”

“And so now Toda, Transcend Oceania, the Pacific Conference of Churches, and the Pacific Centre for Peace Building are going to be partnering together to continue that project.”

While climate change and its affects will only continue to worsen, the workshop was an encouraging show of unity and compassion that will be needed if further suffering in Pacific is to be prevented.

Most importantly, it opened an essential conversation in which the many different voices could be heard.

“This is only the beginning of that conversation,” says Baleinakorodawa.

Michael Andrew is a student journalist on the Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies (Journalism) reporting on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University.

Professor Kevin Clements facilitating the Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop. Image: Michael Andrew/PMC

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Rainbow Warrior returns to NZ for ‘oil free’ future and activist doco

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman and the Rainbow Warrior skipper toss a wreath in memory of Fernando Pereira into the sea at the spot where the original bombed RW was scuttled in 1986 to create a living reef. Video: David Robie/Cafe Pacific

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Greenpeace’s flagship Rainbow Warrior 3 was welcomed in Matauri Bay at the start of a month-long tour of New Zealand yesterday to celebrate a victory in the fight against fossil fuels and to launch filming on a documentary drawing on the links between the nuclear-free and climate change struggles.

The tour began following the laying of a wreath at sea to honour the memory of Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira who was killed by French secret service saboteurs who bombed the original Rainbow Warrior in Auckland on 10 July 1985.

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman gave an emotive speech about Pereira’s legacy being the ultimate success of the antinuclear struggle with the end of French nuclear testing in the Pacific in 1996 and the ongoing climate change campaign.

READ MORE: Rainbow Warrior tour begins tour at site of bombed predecessor

Rainbow Warrior crew, Greenpeace stalwarts and local hapu members were treated to a seafood lunch at Matauri marae.

The Nuclear Dissent interactive documentary.


Also launched yesterday was a new interactive documentary, Nuclear Dissent, a cautionary tale about haunting nuclear destruction, told through the lens of some of the world’s bravest activists and experts – the successful leaders of disarmament efforts from French Polynesia and New Zealand to Canada, the United States, and Greenpeace, who influenced outcomes and fought for change.

In five short video chapters available on desktop, mobile and webVR, the true story of the battle to end French nuclear weapons testing between 1966 and 1996 is told through dynamic 360º panoramas on land, afloat in the fallout zone, amid riots, and underwater, Greenpeace says in a statement.

The story is capped off with a raw assessment of where the world is today – the greatest global nuclear threats, risks and effects unpacked.

Extreme health and environmental damage to French Polynesia was caused by test nuclear explosions in the South Pacific, spreading cancerous plutonium across continents and into the food chain.

Activist persistence
Due to the persistence of activists braving the fallout zone and widespread protests and a growing nuclear free movement, the French government eventually shut down its testing programme.

More than a decade later, those affected have yet to receive justice for the intergenerational trauma inflicted on their land, their health and their resources by the French government, the Greenpeace statement said.

With historical accounts from protesters Anna Horne and Greenpeace’s David McTaggart who sailed into the test zone, expert opinions from nuclear policy analyst and Harvard professor Matthew Bunn, Dr Ira Hefland and climatologist Alan Robcock, viewers are guided through an eye-opening journey.

Alongside each chapter’s video content, 360 x-ray environments and journals filled with evidence and artifacts bring otherwise invisible details and deadly damages to light.

An interactive fallout map enabled with address entry visualises what the scope of destruction, death and injury would look like in any city, from a selection of current nuclear weapons that exist in the arsenals of the world’s most dangerous superpowers.

‘Making oil history’
Anna Horne joined Rainbow Warrior 3 yesterday as the ship prepared to sail from Matauri Bay to Auckland where Greenpeace will launch its “Making Oil History” tour of New Zealand”.

Earlier, the Rainbow Warrior had been joined by David Robie, author of Eyes of Fire about the Rongelap voyage and the bombing of the original Rainbow Warrior, and currently director of the Pacific Media Centre.

In 2015, Professor Robie and a group of student journalists combined with Little Island Press and Greenpeace to create a microsite dedicated to Rainbow Warrior and environmental activist stories and videos, Eyes of Fire: 30 Years On, as a public good resource.

Both Horne and Dr Robie are among at least 10 activists, writers and changemakers being interviewed for the new Greenpeace documentary being directed by journalist Phil Vine.

The wreath laying ceremony in memory of Fernando Pereira on board the Rainbow Warrior yesterday. Image: David Robie/Cafe Pacific

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Pacific Climate Warriors rise for global day of ‘urgent action’

West Papua advocates talk about climate change and human rights. Video: Human Rights Watch

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Pacific Islanders across the Pacific and within Pacific Island diaspora communities in Australia, New Zealand and the United States are joining more than 800 actions in 90 countries under the banner of Rise for Climate to demonstrate the urgency of the climate crisis.

From the September 8-10, these Pacific communities will shine a spotlight on the increasing impacts they are experiencing and demand stronger action to keep fossil fuels in the ground, reports the advocacy group 350 Pacific.

As part of these global mobilisations, the Pacific is leading the charge with creative events and actions that call for a swift and just transition to 100 percent renewable energy for all.

READ MORE: World has three years left to stop dangerous climate change, warn experts

Globally, people are rising to support urgent action before 2020 to accelerate to the rapid phase out of fossil fuels and a just transition to clean and fair energy systems for all.


“There is no time to lose. Climate change is a threat that is already here and now in the Pacific: inundation by sea level rise, the strongest cyclones ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, massive flooding, and droughts are some of the recent impacts of climate change being felt across the region,” says 350 Pacific.

Already this year the world has experienced:

  • Catastrophic heatwaves in North Africa, Europe, Japan, Pakistan, Australia and Argentina;
  • Deadly wildfires in Greece, Sweden, the USA and Russia;
  • Drought in Kenya and Somalia;
  • Major water shortages in Afghanistan and South Africa;
  • Extreme storms and flooding in Hawaii, India, Oman and Yemen;
  • Record melting of the Bering Sea ice; and
  • the 400th month in a row of above-average global temperatures.

This weekend’s Rise for Climate will demonstrate the growing strength and diversity of the climate movement and the people who will not wait for governments to act, but will lead by example and hold them to account.

Climate change affects the whole of the Pacific, including West Papua. 350 Pacific says:

“On top of dealing with the Indonesian occupation, our brothers and sisters in West Papua are also living with the impacts of climate change.”

West Papua … a struggle over climate change and for human rights. Image: 350 Pacific

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific student uncertainties over climate impact outweighs Fiji poll

Final year University of the South Pacific student journalist Elizabeth Osifelo, from the Solomon Islands, has witnessed the rise in sea level each time she travels home from Suva. Image: PIFS/Wansolwara

Climate change issues seem to loom larger than the impending Fiji general election in the minds of University of the South Pacific students. Pacific Media Centre’s Sri Krishnamurthi speaks to students about their thoughts.

COP23, which refers to the 23rd annual Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), and Fiji holding the presidency over the last year is the reason university students in Fiji are alarmed at the rapid changes in their environment.

“As someone from the Pacific, there is a strong concern about climate change. The thing which I see in the Pacific as part of climate change is the burden that it is not of our own doing, but unfortunately, we are the losers who are putting it out there,” says Mohammed Ahmed, a Bachelor of Arts student at the regional University of the South Pacific.

“For example, in one of the conventions in which all the countries are represented, there is a decision made to reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent.


“To countries like China and America, which are industrial nations, that’s applicable but to a country in the Pacific which has a substantially insignificant carbon footprint that wouldn’t apply.”

Climate change is foremost on the minds of USP students rather than an impending Fiji general election that has still not had a declared date.

USP Bachelor of Arts student Mohammed Ahmed … “climate change is a burden not of our doing.” Image: Sri Krishnamurthi/PMC/Wansolwara

Koroi Tadulala, a final-year journalism student, is deeply concerned about what climate change means for his generation.


“For the young generation, the issue today is climate change because there is strong focus on Fiji,” he said.

“One of the major highlights that I want to point out is the presidency [held by the Prime Minister of Fiji, Voreqe Bainimarama] of COP23 last year, its Fiji’s advocacy on climate change, and the talanoa concept that was developed and has now become a global thing.

Talanoa dialogue
“I am very concerned about the environment. I took part in the talanoa dialogue. I was at COP23 in Bonn, Germany, as a youth ambassador.

“It was really interesting because we got a global perspective in one confined space. We had leaders brainstorming solutions and innovative ways which we can combat this global issue.”

Regardless of the politics of Fiji, he had nothing but praise for the way his Prime Minister handled himself on the world stage.

“I’d say he has delivered very well as president of COP23. He still continues to fight climate change and he remains active about the issue.”

It worries Elizabeth Osifelo, who hails from the Solomon Islands, because she observes the rising sea levels each time she goes home from Suva.

“I am concerned because I come from a low-lying area, which is by the sea. I always go back home during Christmas and every time I go back, year after year, I can see changes,” she said.

There are similar concerns voiced for the environment in the Solomon Islands.

Eliminating plastic
“I know a lot of Pacific Island nations are in the process of eliminating plastic bags and rubbish like in Fiji and Vanuatu, which has taken the lead in banning plastic bags.

“I hope that the Solomon Islands will come that soon so that we are more active in the way we look after our environment,” she said.

Kritika Rukmani from the nearby tourism mecca of Pacific Harbour could not put it more succinctly.

“I am very passionate about climate change. We, as an island nation, should be concerned because we are very small compared with other countries. We will sink at a faster rate than anyone else,” she said.

Adi Anaseini Civavonovono believes that individuals cannot shirk their responsibility and leave it all to the authorities or the private investors.

“How we look after the environment is up to individuals we cannot depend on government initiatives or climate change financiers. Climate change is a concern not only for Fiji but for the Pacific region because we are the most affected,” she summed up.

Auckland speaker Aneet Kumar, a student working and studying at USP, takes a wider view on climate change. Image: Sri Krishnamurthi/PMC/Wansolwara

Keynote speaker
Having travelled near and far in the past two years and being involved in the NGO sector, Aneet Kumar was invited to Auckland last month to be the keynote speaker at the Peace Foundation’s Auckland Secondary Schools’ Symposium.

Working and studying at the USP, he takes a wider view on the subject.

“As a young person who has been to a number of countries, I can say Fiji has made significant progress in terms of representations on international bodies and agencies like the United Nations. That is one way of dealing with threats to our futures,” said Kumar.

“This week I was reading about our permanent representative to the UN [Satyendra Prasad], who had raised his concerns at the UN Security Council’s Peaceful Mediation process, on the importance of the UN Security Council to consider rigorously and debate climate change issues and issue of disputes between countries. Hopefully something good comes out of it.”

Perhaps the last words on the touchy topic for students comes from Mohammed Ahmed who aptly sums up, “As a person that is concerned about climate change, we have talked a lot but we have dragged our feet as well”.

Sri Krishnamurthi is a journalist and Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student at Auckland University of Technology. He is attached to The University of the South Pacific journalism programme, filing for USP’s Wansolwara News and the AUT Pacific Media Centre’s Asia Pacific Report.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Elisabeth Holland: Pacific climate change persistence – we’re all in the same canoe

The University of the South Pacific’s environmental centre spearheading climate change research believes in working together for shared solutions, says Professor Elisabeth Holland.  Video: Pacific Media Centre’s Bearing Witness project

INTERVIEW: Lars Ursin of 2°C talks to Elisabeth Holland

The Pacific Islands are already struggling with the consequences of climate change. But they are not giving in. Instead, they have become a force to be reckoned with in international climate diplomacy. How did that happen?

2°C: How are the Pacific Islands experiencing the effects of global warming today?

Elisabeth Holland: Tropical cyclone Winston’s 40-metre waves, that is one thing. The devastating peak winds of both tropical cyclones Pam and Winston, and the destructive storm surges they brought. The fact that recovery after Winston amounted to 30 percent of Fiji’s GDP. Also in Fiji, 676 of around 1800 villages have already said they need to move. Not just from storm surges, but from repeated inundation due to rising sea level or changing storm patterns. Or coastal erosion generated by storm surges and rising sea levels.

In Fiji, we now recommend that all newly married couples move to higher ground. This is because it is tradition to build new housing for newlyweds to give the communities a head start on the inevitable transition. The transitions needs to happen in a methodical, well-organised way with community buy-in.

What areas of the Pacific Islands are most vulnerable to further climate change?


That would be Tuvalu, Kiribati, The Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tokelau. What they have in common, is a maximum elevation of 3 metres. They are along with the Maldives part of what is called the Coalition of Low Lying Atoll Nations on Climate Change.

Days after Cyclone Winston made landfall on Fiji’s largest island Viti Levu in February 2016, this was what was left of the Rakiraki Market. It used to house more than 200 vendors, but was devastated by the cyclone’s record-breaking winds. Pacific Islanders fear global warming will yield even more frequent and devastating storms in the future. Image: Anna Parinicbnd/UN Women

What is the outlook for the people living on these islands?

The new government of New Zealand is considering setting new immigration policy for their Pacific Island neighbours. Fiji is the only country which has said it would receive climate displaced refugees from the Pacific. Three countries, The Federated States of Micronesia, The Marshall Islands and Palau are part of the Compact of Free Association with the United States and eligible for US passports giving them the right to live, work and study in the USA. Migration, already underway, is to Hawai’i where the provision of some basic services can discriminate against people from these areas.

What practical measures are taken to prevent escalating damage?

There are several issues. Most important is what communities need today to be vibrant and healthy: Fresh water. So, for example, we have provided water tanks and reticulated water systems for more than 12.000 people, funded by the EU. Many of the Pacific Island countries have just begun to access the Green Climate Fund. Tuvalu residents refuse to leave, they say they will adapt. Their funds will be focused on coastal stabilisation, such as sea walls. Marshall Islands are considering which islands to sacrifice to protect the remaining islands. Tokelau has just gotten green climate funding. They are making similar decisions.

‘Migration with dignity’
And Kiribati, under president Anote Tong, a vocal climate spokesperson, has advocated “migration with dignity”. He is focused on ensuring that his population is as well-educated as possible, while at same time taking adaptative measures. Tokelau, by the way, claim to be first 100% renewable energy country, under a project funded by New Zealand.

At the Paris negotiations, you were ringside when the Pacific Islands announced an the High Ambition Coalition with the US and EU, that eventually paved the way for the Paris Agreement. Can you explain what happened?

First, when the High Ambition Coaltion was made public on Tuesday of the second week of negotiations, it was actually forged – in secrecy – during the Cartagena-dialogue earlier in the year. That strategy came about as a result of having learned the lessons of the failed Copenhagen negotiations when no developing country partners were part of the coalition.

That all changed in Paris. First of all, we were better prepared. We had worked with the French Embassy in preparing for the Paris COP. We had worked with the Fijian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Pacific leaders to draft the Suva declaration on Climate Change. The Pacific leaders drafted more than 10 declarations in the lead up to Paris. And still, we were plagued with self-doubt. I remember I met the Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, on the airport on the way to Paris. She said: “I am afraid we haven’t done our strategic homework”. My reply was “I hope you are wrong”. And in the end, it took a lot of patience and persistence, and the determination of Pacific leaders.

In the Paris COP, I was a delegate for the Solomon Islands. My job was to make sure they had the best science available. So on Monday of the second week, during the high-level negotiations, I sat all night doing calculations for 1.5°C. And the results were upsetting, because it showed that we had less than 10 years before the 1.5 C goal was unattainable. Our press conference on the 1.5°C target was held at the same time as the Minister Tony deBrum’s announcement of the High Ambition Coalition.

However, in addition to representing the Solomon Islands, I was also informing the rest of the Pacific delegations. Also, a lot of my former students were now delegates – 20 in total – both for the Solomon Islands, but also with various other states. In addition, twice a year, I am invited by the secretariat of the ACP – a group of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states – to present the science to the ACP ambassadors in Brussels.

So, when I was approached by Pendo Maro, the climate coordinator for the EU ACP secretariat, we marched across the Paris campus, I knew we had 79 countries in my pocket. By the end of Wednesday, 100 countries had signed onto the High Ambition Coation.

Imagine: After all the drafting had been done in Paris, Tony deBrum walked into the room, flanked by the EU and US lead climate negotiators, and they were given a standing ovation. That is the level of support they enjoyed. Because each of the Pacific countries had done their best in pulling in their respective coalitions. And I had no idea what I was doing at the time. I Just knew that when I was invited by the ACP to present the science, I had to do the best I could to deliver the message as clearly as I could.

This time around, all were committed to stand together. There were no breakaways.
Generally, in diplomatic negotiations like this, big countries like China or India will try to divide one Pacific Island off. But this time around, all were committed to stand together, to stand with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). There were no breakaways. We had the leadership of Fiji in the Subsidiary Body for Implementation. Three vocal spokespersons in addition. Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of Tuvalu. Minister deBrum of the Marshall Islands. President Anote Tong of Kiribati. Because they were most vulnerable countries, the rest of the Pacific let them carry the torch and word out to the rest of the world. But every other Pacific country was behind them, doing their negotiations, backing the high points.

What role have the nations of the South Pacific played since?

In Morocco, Fiji was given the COP23 presidency, and there have been a number of accomplishments under that presidency. One is the Indigenous Peoples’ Platform. A second one was the Gender Action Plan. And, finally, the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance. But in addition to all of this, oceans are now being included in the climate negotiations.

What do you mean by that?

If you look in the text of the Paris Agreement, the word “oceans” is named only once. And yet, we all know how important oceans are in the global climate system. Therefore, we have worked to ensure that there is an Ocean Pathway, to make sure the ocean is featured more prominently in the negotiations to come. Diplomacy is never fast, but because Fiji was also president of the UN in 2017, and we had the UN Oceans Conference in 2017, this was a unique opportunity.

This is of course important to the island states of the South Pacific, whose very livelihood depends on the ocean. But it is also a point of confluence with Norway’s positions. Norway has oceans and climate as a priority as well.

And finally, the COP presidency will be handed over to Poland at COP24 in Katowice. However, Poland has asked Fiji to play a role going forwards, to help see the Talanoa facilitative dialogue through.

Speaking of which: Can you briefly explain the Talanoa dialogue and what it is meant to achieve?

There is a great description of it at the COP23 website. But essentially it is this: When people in a Fijian community want to come to a resolution, they convene a meeting. That meeting is called a Talanoa. Everybody comes as equal partners, respected, and in anticipation of being heard. It is done in a circle, generally kava is served to honour everybody. All participants’ views and perspectives are put on the table. And together, participants weave the cloth of the way forward.

This is an idealised description, of course. But it comes from the principle that we are all in the same canoe. And it is the Talanoa that will lay the foundation for the Paris rulebook, and the process called the global stock take. That is a key part in the five-year review process: Taking stock of emissions and comparing them to the temperature targets. And then, based on that, deciding on commitments and the way forward.

But can you actually produce results through that type of process?

Remember, Fiji is a country of less than 850,000 people. And yet, it is by way of the principles of participating in Talanoa that they achieved their role as both president of the UN and COP-president at the same time. So, does that mean that they have a better long term strategic focus?

In the year before, in 2016, Fiji also won an Olympic gold for rugby. Rugby is a strategic game. But so is Pacific diplomacy. Because it always puts the collective first. It is a way of thinking – not about one, but about all.

Is it also about shaking up the rules of the diplomacy game, to allow countries to approach the negotiations in new ways?

The Pacific Islands rank among the very top of disaster prone countries. But they also rank with the highest happiness indices.

Absolutely. Because they know they can trust one another. There is an interesting contrast: The Pacific Islands rank among the very top of disaster prone countries, because of tropical cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis. But they also rank with the highest happiness indices. And it is not because we are rich. And definitely not because we see ourselves as victims.

Going forward from Paris, what are the greatest obstacles facing the negotiations?

The unravelling of the commitment to high ambition. That is the biggest obstacle.

How can that be overcome?

By leading by example. Whether it is us as individuals, companies, cities or nations, the principle to begin with is leading by example. When the Copenhagen negotiations fell apart, Tony deBrum walked out, and he was wearing a flowered shirt. So the press could immediately identify him as being a Pacific Islander. A reporter asked him: “Minister deBrum, are you here to save your island?” to which he responded: “No, I’m here to save the world”.

That is the thinking we need. That we as small Pacific islands can become champions, not just for ourselves, but for the planet. And that we can achieve that through leading by example. And this is also why we through generations have set aside marine protected areas. It is part of our tradition. We are truly ocean stewards.

What role has scientists such as yourself played in the actual climate negotiations up until now?

Science without strategy, without key countries committed to it, and without good legal thinking, gets you nowhere. No matter how compelling.

The science come into the negotiations in in a couple of different ways. One is through the IPCC. That is a completely separate process, and not formally connected to UNFCCC. But the UNFCCC was formulated to include science perspectives. And it does so through the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice, or SBSTA.

But science without strategy, without key countries committed to it, and without good legal thinking, gets you nowhere. No matter how compelling. That part is hard for scientists to swallow. Because diplomatic negotiations are more about relationships than they are about science.

Leading up to Paris, we had something called the Structured Expert Dialogue, and the 2013-2015 Review. The 2013-2015 Review was a compelling report. That was where they asked the scientific community to take a look at the IPCC and all the available evidence to provide guidance on things like long term temperature goals. Like 1.5°C or 2°C warming. That we did, and in the intersessional between Lima and Paris, we got 1.5°C into the formal text of the Research and Systematic Observation report. And that then became the platform by which we could push through the Structured Expert Dialogue (SED) and into the Paris Agreement. You can’t just ask for goals like that in a plenary session during negotiations, you need to work it into the other framework first.

However, the Saudis – and others – blocked the SED 2013-2015 Review report. By the end of the first week, we had no formal consensus that could have informed the Paris negotiations. But we had to close the two subsidiary bodies, SBSTA and SBI – the Subsidiary body for Implementation – to go to the second week, the high-level negotiations.

And it was not until Saturday night that first week that Amena Yauvoli, Fiji, gavelled the Structured Expert Dialogue. With that gavelling, there was a formal legal obligation for science to inform the negotiations. The text of the Paris agreement calls for for a global stocktake to be informed by “the best available science”.

So in the end science prevailed, but only because of good diplomacy and skilful negotiations. And that is something a lot of scientists find difficult to come to terms with. Which is understandable. After all, many of us were attracted to science to begin with because we are attracted to a world defined by black and white rather than grey. However, diplomacy is an exploration of the grey.

How can climate scientists contribute constructively in shaping climate policy in the future?

First, ensure the integrity of science and scientific processes. Second, participate fully in the IPCC processes. Third, make sure that the science can be “translated” and communicated so others can use it for evidence-based decision making.

And finally, understand that the science-policy interface requires time. And is challenging. And requires a lot of dialogue. That may sometimes be frustrating to scientists.

University of the South Pacific’s Professor Elisabeth Holland. Image: 2°C

Name: Elisabeth Holland
Position: Professor, University of the South Pacific, Fiji
Why: Holland is a renowned climate scientist. She has been a central figure in the international climate negotiations and has been a visiting scholar at the Bjerknes Center for Climate Research this year.

This article has been republished from the Norwegian ezine 2°C with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

USP celebrates 50 years and leads research action on climate change

Bearing Witness crew Blessen Tom and Hele Ikimotu’s video story of USP’s ongoing 50th anniversary celebrations and climate change. Video: AUT Pacific Media Centre

By Hele Ikimotu with visuals by Blessen Tom in Suva

This year, the University of the South Pacific is celebrating 50 years since its opening in Fiji in  1968.

The university’s first campus was established in Suva, with a student count of 200 – it now accommodates over 30,000 students across the different campuses within the Pacific region.

USP has campuses in 12 different Pacific nations – Fiji, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Chandra said USP has made a positive contribution to the Pacific region, including contributions in human resources, policy change and research.

He described the university as being “owned by the Pacific and serves the Pacific”. Professor Chandra emphasised the need for these Pacific countries to work together in advocating for Pacific issues.


“As small countries, we need to work together. One is simply too small to be playing in the big world out there. We need to put all of our voices together. We need to co-operate, work together and integrate,” he said.

Professor Chandra also spoke highly of USP’s efforts in tackling the issue of climate change.

Leading stand
Over the years, the university has become one of the leading tertiary institutions to make a stand against the issue.

Vice-Chancellor Rajesh Chandra speaks to USP journalism students in a training media conference about the 50th anniversary of the regional Pacific university. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

“The university has played this role of researching, advocating, supporting policies and disseminating knowledge around climate change,” said Professor Chandra.

The USP journalism school for example is consistently producing stories on climate change issues in their student newspaper Wansolwara. They have also partnered with AUT’s Pacific Media Centre to host two students every year for the Bearing Witness climate change journalism project.

This has seen significant stories about the effect climate change has had on communities in Fiji such as the award-winning multimedia story produced by Kendall Hutt and Julie Cleaver last year about Tukuraki village.

“I am also proud of the USP students. They have gone to the various COPs and have supported their own countries and have become senior advisers to their governments.

“I am quite proud and happy because the climate is central to the survival and prosperity of our country.”

The university’s 1999 strategic plan also saw the establishment of the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD).

Raising awareness
The centre was opened to implement more research of the region’s environment and has continued to raise awareness about climate change and sustainable development in the Pacific.

PaCE-SD offers a postgraduate programme in climate change, with currently 200 students across the Pacific enrolled in the programme.

The centre also implements community projects around climate resilience in the Pacific and has been involved in major projects such as the Community Coastal Adaptation Project (C-CAP) and the Future Climate Leaders Programme (FCLP1).

Since the centre has been established, it has been recognised as a strong part of the university’s fight against climate change and environment research in the Pacific.

PaCE-SD director Professor Elisabeth Holland said it was important to be on the ground making a difference in the Pacific region and local communities.

Bearing Witness reporter Hele Ikimotu, speaks with Elisabeth Holland about the climate change work of PaCE-SD. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

Deputy director of the centre Dr Morgan Wairiu echoed Professor Holland and said the focus of PaCE-SD was helping communities adapt to the changes in the environment because of climate change.

He said it was also important to provide students with the right skills to help them in their areas of research so they could come up with effective solutions to help communities affected by climate change.

PaCE-SD deputy director Dr Morgan Wairiu … providing the right mix of skills for students. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

Community projects
Professor Holland said: “We run community development projects. We have a locally managed climate change adaptation network that extends to more than 100 communities in 15 countries across the Pacific.”

She said that by listening to how communities were affected by climate change, it had taught their team to listen better and develop a more participatory approach in decision making.

“We have the opportunity to learn from one another and if we’re learning from one another, we’re in a partnership to serve whatever problem is in front of us.”

Professor Holland encourages anyone who is interested in learning about climate change to keep an open mind and said: “Don’t assume you know what the answer is.

“The strongest solutions are those developed together. The fundamental values of participatory listening and respect help solve most of the challenges that come up.”

Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom are in Fiji as part of the Pacific Media Centre’s Bearing Witness 2018 climate change project. They are collaborating with the University of the South Pacific.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Bearing Witness students win big at AUT communications studies awards

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Bearing Witness students win big at AUT communications studies awards

Spasifik Magazine’s Laumata Lauano (from left) with winners Julie Cleaver, Kendall Hutt, and Pacific Media Centre’s chair Associate Professor Camille Nakhid and Storyboard donor Professor David Robie (rear) at last night’s AUT communication studies awards. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

By Jean Bell in Auckland

Bearing Witness climate change project students won big last night at the annual awards ceremony for AUT’s School of Communication Studies last night.

Julie Cleaver and Kendal Hutt took out the Spasifik Magazine Prize and Pacific Media Centre Storyboard Award for Diversity Reporting for their work on the Bearing Witness climate change project last year.

Hele Ikimotu was awarded the John Foy Memorial Award for broadcast journalism and will be flying to Fiji tomorrow to continue the Bearing Witness climate change project this year.

READ MORE: Bearing Witness climate project stories

‘Great honour’
Cleaver and Hutt both travelled to Fiji last year where they created a multimedia feature on the Fijian village of Tukuraki, which was hit by a deadly landslide and two cyclones in the space of five years.

The project also won the Dart Asia-Pacific Prize for Journalism and Trauma at the annual Ossie Awards for Student Journalism at Newcastle, NSW, last December.


Cleaver is now editor of Debate Magazine and Hutt is a reporter with the North Shore Times.

Hutt said it was a great honour to receive this award.

“This award is not just our award, it is also Tukuraki’s award for letting us come up to the community and let us tell their story. I think it had only been told in Fijian media and ABC Australia,” said Hutt.

‘Journalism highlight’
Cleaver said her time in Fiji was a moving experience. “It was a privilege to be a journalist and hear these people’s stories. When else would you get to hear these people’s personal testimonies from someone who has been through so much as well.”

“The Pacific Media Centre has been so supportive to both of us throughout this process. Thanks so much to Professor David Robie and everyone else involved,” said Cleaver.

“The trip was a journalism highlight. This is why I wanted to get into journalism.”

“It’s so awesome that Dr Robie is driving this PMC project. It needs someone passionate to keep it going and it’s such a privilege to be a part of that.”

John Foy Memorial Award for broadcast journalism Hele Ikimotu with his parents Grace and Jone at last night’s AUT communication studies awards. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Ikimotu ‘excited’
Bearing Witness climate change project participant Hele Ikimotu received the John Foy Memorial Award.

Louise Matthews, curriculum leader of AUT’s journalism programme, presented the award to Ikimotu and said he “aced” his undergraduate courses and stayed on to do postgraduate study this year.

Ikimotu thanked God, the John Foy Memorial Trust sponsors and his “supportive and inspiring” journalism tutors in his acceptance speech.

“I’m so excited and nervous to go over there. I come from an ancestry of storytellers. There are times I doubted I had the ability to be a good storyteller but this award has affirmed I have what it takes, and I’m so excited to see where journalism takes me.

“I’m so excited to use it as a platform for my people and continue being a voice for the Pacific. I was born in the Islands and I know my family back home are proud that I’m doing it and representing them.”

Ikimotu leaves for Fiji tomorrow with fellow participant Blessen Tom to carry on this year’s version of the Bearing Witness project.

Ikimotu and Tom will be heading on a two-week climate change mission to the main island of Viti Levu where they will be interviewing local people who are directly affected by the devastating effects of climate change in the Pacific.

Ikimotu and Tom will be searching for stories, interviewing people directly affected by climate change and reporting directly for Asia Pacific Report, Wansolwara and other media.

Tagata Pasifika’s master of ceremonies John Pulu, an AUT graduate and past winner of the Storyboard for diversity journalism, entertained the audience with his witty remarks. Image: Del Abcede/PMC.

Full 2017 School of Communication Studies awards:
School of Communication Studies Award for Top Student in the Certificate in Communication Studies: Schumacher Liuvaie

School of Communication Studies Award for Top Year One Bachelor of Communication Studies: Amy Wang

School of Communication Studies Award for Top Year Two Bachelor of Communication Studies: Jamie Ensor

School of Communication Studies Award for Excellence in Communication Theory: Adam Szentes

Communication Studies Postgraduate Scholarships: India Fremaux, Yulia Khan, Malini Radkrishna, Jayakrishnan Sreekumar

Dean’s Award for Best Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies: Elizabeth Osborne

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Master of Communication Studies – Thesis: Ximena Smith

Oceania Media’s Spasifik Magazine Prize and the Pacific Media Centre’s Storyboard Award for Diversity Reporting: Julie Cleaver and Kendall Hutt

The Radio Bureau Award for Top of Research Project: Radio: Georgina Cain-Treleaven

The Radio Bureau Award for Top Radio Student: Maxene London

John Foy Memorial Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism: Hele Ikimotu

Bauer Award for Excellence in Magazine Journalism: Nicole Barratt

New Zealand Herald Award for Top Post Graduate Diploma Student in Creative Practice – Journalism: Arun Jeram

National Business Review Award for the Outstanding Graduate in the BCS Journalism Major: Nicole Barratt

New Zealand Geographic award for Excellence in Photojournalism: Adam Szentes

Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Award for the Top Year 2 Public Relations Student: Jamie Ensor

The winners of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Paul Dryden Tertiary Award 2017: Boyan Buha, Jodealyn Cadacio, Simon Cooper, and Georgia Ward

Highly Commended Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Paul Dryden Tertiary Award 2017: Abby Berry, Emma Hilton, Morgan MacFadyen

Public Relations Institute of New Zealand President’s Award for the Top Academic Student in the Public Relations Major: Adam Szentes

The Postgraduate Public Relations Global Virtual Team Winner (2017): Alex Ubels

FCB Change Agency Award for Digital Media Excellence: Stefanee Chua

School of Communication Studies joint Award for Academic Excellence in the Creative Industries Major: Kaylah Burke and Laura Reid

QMS Awards for Advertising Creativity:
QMS Art Director of the Year – Holly Smith
QMS Account Executive of the Year – Ella Bilham
QMS Team of the Year – Will Macdonald and Adam Ramsdale

Francis Porterfield Memorial Award for Excellence in Multicamera Production: Steven Yee

MediaWorks Award for Best Producer: McKay Carroll

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