Témoignages - 6 March 2015


Recently the launching of the paper here in South Auckland "SMALL YET STRONG VOICES from OCEANIA on the ENVIRONMENT" was drawn up from interviews with people/families across Oceania - its a peoples’ voice perspective requested by the New Zealand Bishops Conference, undertaken by Caritas which is the Agency for Justice Peace and development here. Three of us LSA attended and this is a glimpse of a couple of the areas we chose to focus on from the day raised on ENVIRONMENT JUSTICE and CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES within our confederation as matters of urgency affecting the wellbeing of Peoples in the Pacific. Climate change and environmental degradation pose a severe threat to Pacific livelihoods and survival. The aim is to include increasing community awareness of ENVIRONMENTAL issues and CLIMATE CHANGE here in New Zealand and Oceania, promoting SUSTAINABILITY of natural resources and undertaking advocacy to address structural environmental injustices. In New Zealand we are now seeing the pollution of our creaks, streams and rivers as the result of large $$$ corporations influence on Sheep Farmers who are changing their farms over to cattle; as a result the waste from the cattle is seeping into the soil, creeks, streams and rivers contaminating what once was our prestigious water ways. This is causing the need for water ways and banks to be secured to prevent further pollution and health issues. This has caused issues with the dying of natural and native plants that grow along the banks of the streams, rivers and in swamp areas. One of the many Pacific Islands that the changing ENVIRONMENT is particularly evident on the basic everyday lives of the people is Tonga. Tonga is introducing "The Aims of Caritas Tonga’s CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION and DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT Program", to reduce the risks of climate change and disaster events by informing and engaging, thereby strengthening, community resilience and sustainable development. Adaptation to change is an inherent part of the lifestyles of the Tongan community, and traditional knowledge, values and practices are at the core of resilience and the ability of the islands to live and thrive in Tonga’s changing environment. Over the past 5-10 years temperatures have become noticeably warmer -GLOBAL WARMING - causing seas to swell with heat, and the weather more unpredictable - going from drought conditions to very heavy rain and flooding affecting lives and livelihoods. If there is rainfall - significant rainfall, then ploughing cannot take place because the soil is too wet and that has a direct impact on them in how they market their goods. If they plant later then they will harvest later, it wont reach the markets that they want and therefore they wont meet the cost of production. However, in extended dry periods, insect pests will attack plants from the leaves to the roots. When its wet, the root crops are safer from pests, but wont grow so large. They are good only for the local markets. Tonga is now not so cool from May to September - it tends to be warm all year round. Breadfruit used to ripen in November and December, but now it appears all year round, only the fruit is smaller. Mangoes also tend to be smaller. Changing weather patterns make it difficult and unpredictable for growers. The central Tongan Island group of Ha’apai - consisting of low lying atolls - has several times experienced a damaging cyclone after a prolonged drought. Water has to be stored in large barrels. While money and energy continues to be spent on global talks about climate change, Pacific Islanders are scrambling to build sea walls out of sticks, stones, shells and coral, to protect their lands and homes from erosion and rising sea levels as a result of GLOBAL WARMING. As mentioned this report drew from interviews with people across Oceania at grass roots and coastal edge level on the environmental challenges they face and how they are responding to rising sea levels eating away at homes and coconut palms on the low-lying islands It’s a peoples voice perspective and we need global fora such as the United Nations and the meeting in Peru to help find agreement on ways to limit further environmental damage. "Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples". (Pope Francis). From L.S.A. Auckland, New Zealand.