National Symposium on Environmental Sustainability asks Communities to Share Their Story
September 25, 2023
Suva, Fiji - A three-day national symposium focusing on community led initiatives for environmental sustainability commenced on Tuesday in Suva with the theme ‘Share Your Story’.
The national symposium brings together over 100 participants from communities across Fiji, encouraging those attending to share their experiences on sustainable development, while also offering the opportunity to exchange knowledge, lessons learned, and to share best-practice.
Unifying Fiji's Vision for Sustainable Development
The goal of the symposium is to create a unified vision for sustainable development in Fiji, with key lessons and messages to be shared at the national, regional and global levels to help ensure that communities and nature are considered at all levels of government and the decision-making process.
Support From Key Partners
This event has been made possible with thanks to support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme, through direct funding to CChange Pacific alongside World Wildlife Fund Pacific, the Fiji Museum, and other partners.
A Call for Indigenous Voices in Sustainability
UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative, Tuya Altangerel, offered remarks during the opening session of the symposium and said the voice of Pacific peoples was vital for when it comes to seeing meaningful, transformative change in the area of environmental sustainability.
“Indigenous people and local communities have a deep understanding of their environment, and the traditional knowledge and practices to manage this environment sustainably. They are often the first to respond to climate change and other environmental challenges, and they have developed innovative solutions that can be used to protect their communities and the environment.
“We need to ensure that the voices and experiences of indigenous people and local communities are heard at all levels of decision-making across the region.”
Building Momentum for COP28
Ms. Altangerel also highlighted the importance of sharing stories and harnessing collective action to build a stronger movement for sustainable development across the Pacific ahead of the 28th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP28) this November.
“You will have the opportunity to share your stories and experiences of how your communities are adapting to climate change and building resilience, building further momentum for the inclusion of indigenous people and local communities in COP28,” she said.
Amplifying Community Voices
Officiating the opening, Assistant Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management, Jovesa Vocea, said it was imperative to hear from community leaders to ensure that firsthand accounts of environmental-related concerns were being voiced.
“The stories shared at the symposium will assist in putting together solutions to the problems being faced by Fiji, mapping a way forward for the nation,” said Mr. Vocea.
Lavenia Naivalu, representing Mata ni Tikina Nacula, said that while she had witnessed coral bleaching in her community, the required funding and resources to combat this remained limited.
“In past years, my family would sit along the coastline and fish, but now my children would have to walk four miles to find enough fish for a proper family meal,” she said.
The national symposium concluded on 21 September.
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