Sharing traditional canoe building, navigation and seafaring knowledge will help cut pollution in our oceans and the environment, the Pacific Resilience Meeting (PRM) has heard.
Mr Dwain Qalovaki, Secretary of the Suva-based ‘Uto ni Yalo Trust’ and Vice President of the Fiji Traditional Voyaging Society told delegates that using traditional canoes will help in the campaign to lower carbon emissions and save the planet.
He spoke at the ‘Low Carbon Development’ session.
He said the Trust is inviting Pacific interests to learn the skills and knowledge of traditional canoe building, navigation and seafaring because they believe that their work of ‘Piloting Low -Carbon sea transportation model for Fiji using traditional voyaging services in rural island routes’ needs to be spread throughout the region.
“We are open to sharing our knowledge and would like to extend that invitation to all Pacific islanders and Pacific traditional voyaging societies who would like to learn these things to contact us,” Mr Qalovaki said.
“We will look after them here and help them learn all these so that they are able to go back to their countries and implement the knowledge and skills they would have learned.”
The Trust plans to build 100 traditional canoes by the end of the year.
25 of those canoes will be out on the waters by the end of May.
The plan is to distribute these boats to the maritime islands around the country.
“Our aim is to revive traditional boat building knowledge and skills, navigation and seafaring cultures,” Mr Qalovaki said.
“And then distribute them to the maritime islands to use, with the aim that by using solar energy and wind we would be able to contribute to lessening the reliance on fossil fuel and thus reduce the emission of unwanted gas into the atmosphere.”
The designs are similar to the Uto ni Yalo canoe.
Uto ni Yalo (which translates to ‘Heart of the Spirit’) is one of nine traditionally designed sailing canoes built to promote a sustainable, reciprocal relationship with nature.
The Uto Ni Yalo is backed by the German philanthropic conservationist group Okeanos Foundation for the Sea in partnership with Pacific experts across the region.
The Uto Ni Yalo was also designed to demonstrate that the shipping routes previously thought to be economically non-viable can be re-established, thereby reviving access to these islands, restoring their importance, and providing opportunities for the youth living there.
Through funding from the Small Grants Programme (SGP) by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Uto ni Yalo has been used to show how low carbon sea transport can offset Fiji’s fossil fuel reliance and become a viable option for cargo transfer from remote maritime islands.
Since 2010, it has sailed over 80,000 nautical miles to over 15 countries in both the southern and northern hemispheres.
Mr Qalovaki said they had learned a number of lessons over the years, which included engagement with the private sector.
“To engage with the private sector first and foremost we have to learn to engage with them in their space,” he said.
“We have to look at creative ways to push funding for renewable energy projects that they would be involved with.
“And we also need to understand that 50% of Small Micro Enterprises (SMEs) fail in the first five years.”
Mr Qalovaki said the region should also use international experts who are available as volunteers in the different non-government organisations set up locally and regionally.
“We found out that there is lot of power and skills when they volunteer with local organisations,” he added.
The inaugural Pacific Resilience Meeting is held in Suva, Fiji from 1 – 3 May 2019.