What does a globally renowned Pacific island comedian and low carbon development have in common? Everything.
During the Inaugural Pacific Resilience Meeting in Suva, Fiji this week, Mr Tofiga Fepulea’i, a Pacific entertainment icon was the moderator for key sessions, including that which focused on Low Carbon Development.
Bringing humour and the personal understanding of how climate change and low carbon development impacts him and his family has helped make a session which is often perceived as “technical”, as an issue that we can all relate to.
“The response we got from people in the audience was amazing. Low carbon development is a topic that belongs to us all in the Pacific, not just the practitioners or the experts – we all have a responsibility towards achieving a low carbon economy, because it just makes good sense,” said Ms Tagaloa Cooper, the Director of Climate Change Resilience of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
“To inspire and effect change, people need information that speaks to their context, so if people understand issues such as climate change that they relate to and can link to their own setting.” SPREP actively seeks to ensure this happens. This includes bringing a personality whom Pacific island people can relate to, to help raise awareness and engagement towards a low carbon future.”
The Pacific island region contributes less than 0.03 per cent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions yet are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Despite this, the Pacific island region is committed to transitioning to a low carbon economy – one in which we use less fossil fuel to generate energy.
A low carbon economy and development not only puts the region at the forefront of the fight against climate change but also brings a wide range of societal benefits including upskilling of the workforce, employment opportunities and reduces pollution.
“Being a part of this has really hit home how serious this issue is. We need to work together to help Pasifika people across the world understand this message,” said Mr Tofiga Fepulea’i.
The comedic talents of Mr Fepulea’i have entertained thousands over an 18 year career, in New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific islands, the United States of America and now the inaugural Pacific Resilience Meeting in Fiji.
“Living in New Zealand, I watch the news and see the stories about the impacts of climate change on our Pacific islands and I feel far removed from all of it, however I’m very happy to be here this week and to hear these stories firsthand and to really understand the magnitude of the problem we are currently facing.”
Low carbon development, one of the three goals of the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific Islands helps bring the benefits of renewable energy to the remotest places while protecting our unique ecosystems.
To help bring it about and ensure the solutions to reducing our carbon emissions are sustainable, everyone needs to be involved – governments, the private sector, academics, regional partners, local Pacific governments, our young people – everyone.
“Low carbon development is important, however if we simplify the language the message will be well received by the mass,” said Mr Fepulea’i.
“I have learnt a lot spending time with the teams at the Pacific Resilience Week here in Suva and have had the issue explained to me in language I can understand and it has made a big impact on me. Thank you to all of you for the work that you do.”