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Rising Tides, Rising Voices

22 April 2024, Impact of Our Work

Pacific Kids Lead the Charge for Climate Action

Climate change is threatening the future of Pacific children. 

Scientists are saying Kiribati, one of the world’s lowest lying nations, will be swallowed up by sea level rise within 75 years – the first country to disappear completely.   

In neighbouring Vanuatu, the impacts of climate change are being felt right now. The small island nation is one of the most vulnerable to disasters globally. It’s weathered three severe cyclones this year already – and the season isn’t over yet. 

Pacific children have done the least to contribute to this crisis, but they’re at the forefront of fighting it. That’s why Save the Children is working with young people to amplify their voices as they  demand world leaders take action and protect their rights. 

Voices heard in Vanuatu

Speaking at a children’s press conference hosted by Save the Children in Vanuatu, 15-year-old Rihanna stands ankle-deep in water. She bravely addresses the politicians and students gathered on the beach. 

“Young people like ourselves are deeply concerned about the future and the challenges that lie ahead,” she says.

The injustice of climate change is no longer acceptable.

Rihanna, 15, Vanuatu

Her schoolmate, Lavinia, agrees. “We are the young generations and tomorrow’s leaders and have the right to live on a safe and healthy planet,”  she says to the crowd. 

Watch this video to hear from students at our children’s press conference in Vanuatu, work supported by the Australian Government. 

“We want to propose to all world leaders to help mitigate and adapt to climate change,”  another student Anthony says, taking his turn at the microphone. 

Countless other students echo them, as Vanuatu’s leaders listen thoughtfully, nodding and leafing through the Harem Voes Blong Mi report produced with the help of the students. The students’ message is clear – they demand climate justice, now. 

Speaking up in Solomon Islands

Across the Pacific, young people in the Solomon Islands are taking up a similar fight. In a Pacific nation where sea level rise and changes to rainfall are already driving food insecurity, children are the ones pushing for change. 

17-year-old Deanne* from coastal Malaita province explains the danger. “Our seaside community faces issues like sea level rise. Sometimes the rising sea level destroys our gardens,” she says, explaining that salt poisons the soil. “The sea sometimes covers our pathway to school. We have to wade across to get to school,”  she adds. 

Cinderella, 15, lives in the same province. She reflects on a wild storm that hit her village on New Year’s Eve a few years ago. Cinderella says that even though that cyclone is in the past, her community worries because they know disasters are getting bigger and more deadly as time goes by.

That’s why we need to come together and act now, before it’s too late.

Cinderella, 15, Solomon Islands

Cinderella (15) hopes people can unite to take action against climate change before it’s too late.
Photo: Collin Leafasia / Save the Children.

All of us together, against climate change

The International Court of Justice is currently determining whether industrialised countries, who produce the majority of greenhouse gases, are responsible for the effects of climate change on children and future generations. Save the Children has supported students to submit climate testimonials for consideration by the court. 

The judgment will be handed down in 2025. But regardless of the outcome, we’ll stand with Pacific children and young people in their fight against climate change, and for a safe tomorrow for all. 

We can’t say it better than Atasha, who at 15 expertly articulates our shared vision for the future. “We seek not only to rectify the present injustices, but also to lay the groundwork for a brighter more equitable future,”  she says.   

Our work supporting children in Vanuatu to raise their voices on climate change is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). 

*Name has been changed to protect identities.

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