Fiji's young climate change campaigner
“The land, our reefs, our fishing grounds, our forests are crying with us. We must heal and reconnect. We must do it now”
Photo: Epeli Nakautoga - IUCN Oceania
These were the words of 15 year old AnnMary Vikatoria Raduva of Viwa, Bau Tailevu, a young eco champ and climate change activist who is making waves of change through her fight against the climate change crisis.
A year ago AnnMary with the help of her parents and with no funding started a campaign for a total ban on balloon releasing in Suva.
“Although we did not have a big budget allocation for the campaign event – my parents mae sure that there was enough money for transportation, reusable and degradable garbage bags, gloves, light refreshments and merchandise – so I could continue creating awareness and attention on balloon releasing, protecting our environment and climate change”, she said.
“Say No to Balloon Releasing” was to raise awareness on the deadly effects of releasing balloons to remember or celebrate lifetime achievement”
“I was ignored, ridiculed and was met with much less enthusiasm. I felt that my efforts fell on deaf ears. My parents wanted to shield and protect me as most parents would do but I was determined to raise my voice and to give my generation something to talk about”
AnnMary then resorted to using social media through Facebook and Twitter platforms to raise awareness.
“I used social media to communicate, mobilise and spread the word about actions”, she said.
“It is through social media that I am able to reach out to the young eco-champs – we are not happygo-lucky group of kids making unnecessary noise and just holding up signs and used as props in high-level meetings, we mean business and we are sounding the emergency alarm on our depleting ecological system and climate crisis.”
“I also created the Young Eco-Champions network for the children under 18 to reshape the awareness landscape around climate change and the ecological crisis and I am confident that this network of young, inspired and empowered environment activists will create change in protecting our environment.” She said there was always a misconception that young children had no say on climate change and conservation issues and children were discriminated on because of their age and gender"
“The establishment of the ‘Say No to Balloon Releasing’ and the ‘Young Eco Champions Network’ are to first empower and support young activists because we feel that not a lot of attention is given to young activists below the age of 18, thus the urgency to establish a network or league for young Eco-champions. Not everyone’s story will go viral but the more empowering stories we have, the better it is”
“And secondly, this is our future we are talking about. The recent environmental breaches here in Fiji namely, Savusavu and Malolo are a wake-up call for my generation. We are always said to be young and naïve and it is defeating for me.”
“Protecting the environment, lowering the carbon footprint, saving our heritage which is our future is everyone’s concern”
“We, young activists and those hundreds of keen volunteers are ready to re-nurture the environment and maintain its serenity. We are ever ready to regenerate, maintain and sustain our forests and marine life”
Closing her statement, AnnMary addressed the participants of the IUCN Oceania Regional Conservation Forum and said to save the world, people must work together!
AnnMary Raduva was one of the inspirational and empowered voices invited to speak at the IUCN Oceania Regional Conservation Forum held in Suva, Fiji from July 29th – Aug 2nd.
(Article by The Fiji Times, 9 Aug, 2019)