Pacific Climate Warriors win global award as struggle gets ‘personal’

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Pacific Climate Warrior
Pacific Climate Warrior Mary Moeono-Kolio receiving the Pax Christi International Peace Prize 2020 on behalf of her fellow campaigners for climate justice. Image: PMC

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

A Pacific Climate Warrior today told of personal struggles that impact on island people in the region and how this inspires them to take action for climate justice.

But Wellington coordinator of the Pacific warriors Mary Moeono-Kolio appealed to politicians and policy leaders to take real action fast – before it is too late for the world’s children.

She was making an acceptance speech on behalf of the laureates for the Pax Christi International Peace Prize 2020 at the St Columba community centre in Ponsonby in a livestream broadcast organised by the local chapter Pax Christi Aotearoa.

The audience was called into the community hall by the blowing of a conch shell, followed by a mihi whakatau.

“Climate change is more than just an environmental issue, but a manifestation of the much larger ecological crisis not of our making – one that the Pacific are evidently the first ones to suffer from,” said Moeono-Kolio.

“In my own home of Falefa in Samoa, my dad – who is here today with my mother – has seen within a period of just 50 years, his primary school grounds disappear under the waves.

“His mother’s village of Ti’avea – where he grew up as a young boy playing with his friends – is today, essentially deserted due to the frequent severe weather events such as cyclones and floods that have rendered the village uninhabitable.

‘Our lives are being destroyed’
“For me and my fellow Warriors here today and around the world, examples such as this is why climate change is so personal.

“It’s personal because it is the lives and livelihoods of our families that are being destroyed and continue to suffer due to the consequences of inaction by some and the complicit silence of so many others.”

The Pacific Climate Warriors introduced themselves in turn, and global messages of congratulations and hope were broadcast along with a video of the young campaigners saying how climate changes had impacted on them.

The Pacific Climate Warriors – linked to the global non-governmental climate action organisation 350.org-  is a vibrant network of young people who live in 17 Pacific island nations and diaspora communities in the United States, New Zealand and Australia.

Their mission is to peacefully raise awareness of their communities’ vulnerability to climate change, to show their people’s strength and resilience in the face of extraordinary challenges, and to nonviolently resist the fossil fuel industry whose activities damage their environment.

Past winners of the international peace award have included Brazilian Farmworkers Union president Margarida Maria Alves (1988), the Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace in Tokyo (2007), music peace ambassadors Pontanima (2011), and European Lawyers in Lesbos (2019).

Pacific Climate Warriors
Pacific Climate Warriors and family … celebrating the peace award for their struggle on behalf on Pacific Islanders and people impacted on by the climate crisis. Image: PMC
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