Pasifika Youth Kick off Talanoa for Pacific Resilience Meeting 2021

“Our People our journey, nurturing Pacific resilience from home”, is this year’s theme for the Pacific Resilience Meeting (PRM) that kicked off today with the opening session of the Pre- PRM Youth Forum.

Hundreds from across the Pacific region will take part in the three day online event to discuss what it means to be resilient in the Pacific, bringing together ideas and thoughts on the importance of creating strong Pacific resilience within communities who continue to deal with the ongoing impact and affects of climate change, natural disasters, and the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Representatives from the public and private sectors in business, health, science and research, youth, and grass roots communities will share their insights, learning, and examples of resilience and give voice to what is needed to create a sustainable pathway for the Pacific.

Self reliance in an interconnected world, fights for gender and disability, COVID-19 ‘syndemic’ multiple risks, response, and green recovery are just a few of the topics that will be discussed over the next few days.

The inaugural Pacific Resilience Meeting that took place in Fiji in 2019 is part of the Pacific Resilience Partnership governance arrangements endorsed by the Pacific Island Forum Leaders in 2017. The aim is to support the implementation of the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific: An Integrated Approach to Climate Change and Disaster (2017-2030).

Speaking to media during the PRM Masterclass last Friday, Rhonda Robinson Deputy Director, Disaster and Community Resilience at Pacific Community (SPC), says this year’s theme captures the essence of what they hope the meeting will achieve. Rhonda says the timing and importance of the PRM is vital given what has happened over the last 12 to 18 months with the situation facing Fiji with the pandemic and in the wider region.

The recognition and the sharing and the learning, and in fact celebrating the reality that our resilience for us in the Pacific really does start with individuals in our homes, in our villages, in our provinces, at a national level, and in a region, in our region of the Pacific region.Rhonda Robinson, Deputy Director, Disaster and Community Resilience at Pacific Community (SPC)
Pacific Resilience Meeting

In the first Youth Forum session this morning Tokasa Senibiau, a member of the disaster risk reduction club in Fiji, delivered her opening remarks as a representative voice for children and youth. Tokasa shared her thoughts on the importance of engaging children and youth in building a resilient Pacific.

She says children and youth are well aware of what is happening around them and the serious issues facing Pacific nations dealing with the ongoing impact of climate change, rising sea levels, and global warming. Tokasa says young people need to be part of the discussion for the sake of not only today, but for future generations. When it comes to these issues Tokasa adds that children and youth have a unique perspective and it is important that they have a say.

As children and youth, we would like to be leaders, advocates, agents of change and educators in implementation of resilience and be included in the decision making process at all levels. Tokasa Senibiau

Henry Puna, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum, said during his addres that he agrees that youth will be a lightning rod for change for the Pacific region. Mr. Puna acknowledges “the region is faced with a range of challenges that will define that very essence of our future. This includes the ongoing pandemic including economic and social economic challenges it has presented, and the ongoing climate crisis we face on a daily basis.”

We the generations present today are tasked with the responsibilities of addressing the challenges head on. Indeed its impacts will not be limited to this year alone rather it will be felt for decades to come.  Secretary General Pacific Island Forum Leaders Henry Puna

The official opening of the Pacific Resilience Meeting commences tomorrow morning.

Image credit: Lisa Kingsberry