I have had such a great time at the Asia Pacific Greens Federation Congress (June 12 - 14 2015 in Wellington) meeting people from the region hearing about the fantastic advocacy work they are doing in representing their people, indigenous groups and more vulnerable groups in society as well as the work they are doing around climate change it has been great sharing ideas and knowledge around what works.
Although I was initially disssapointed at the lack of Pacific representation at the forum I now see it as the task of the few of us that are here (myself, two reps from Solomon Islands and one from Papua New Guinea) to reach out into our networks and to get them connected.I came to this congress a bit hesitant, thinking anything that is Asia-Pacific is largely going to be about Asia, but instead of complaining we need action to tie in the wonderful work that is currently being done across the Pacific through bodies and organisations that are not necessarily political parties. There are of course numerous benefits in working together but we must also note that there are significant differences that warrant specific, special and regional attention and I am happy that as a result of numerous discussions, a Pacific network is now being advocated for and that the Congress do its part to reach out to groups across the Pacific - with the assistance of the few of us that are now part of the Congress.
Benefits include being part of a global network, being part of an international movement seeking to hold everyone to account on Climate change, providing a forum for networking and sharing of ideas and best practice - providing international support and recognition for local level advocacy projects, having access to the tools and knowledge needed to implement this stuff on the ground.I have had two major concerns and priorities during this congress, connecting this movement to the fantastic work and groups doing this work in the Pacific I. E. The Pacific Youth Council, Pacific National youth councils (SNYC), various NGOs and also connecting Pasifika communities to the local and global movement here in Aotearoa NZ.
I note that climate change is not everyone's number 1 breakfast topic, but it should be, and to those of us (within the Pacific community) who still this day deny that it has any relevance to inner-city, suburban 'diasporic Pasifika communities', just remember where you came from, where your parents and ancestors are from! We have a responsibility as a regional and 'global community' to care and to be accountable and do our parts and to hold our government's to account when they are not doing all that they can (hello Pacific people in NZ, AUS, USA). We, on this side of the ocean, MUST for our brothers and sisters on the other side of the ocean, do our parts, to try our best, and to think about the Pacific as a whole - not just those of us who are (unfortunate) fortunate to live inside the diaspora. This is important in remembering that many of our elders not only left their island homes so that their children could have better lives and better access to education (somewhat questionable in some parts and no Latafale it was not to gain 'wisdom' that is any better than that accessed in the homeland) but also so that WE (yes the collective and royal we) do what we can to give back to the land and people that nurtured (and the culture) that sustains us and also to support the ongoing development of our islands/ communities and families.
There were over 21 resolutions passed at the Congress and a few of them involved the Pacific I. E the call to support West Papua's desire to join the Melenesian Spearhead Group (MSG) as a sovereign independent entity (although a bit dissapointed that the clause in which we condemn the Indonesian government's ghastly human rights record in the area had been somewhat watered down). Another resolution condemned the government's of Australia and New Zealand and their spying on the electronic activities of SOVEREIGN countries in the Pacific in order to maintain power imbalances /status quo. Another resolution called on Australia and NZ to take more seriously their obligations to refugees via the UN Refugee Convention.
It has been wonderful sharing with like minded people passionate about the environment and social justice, and it is through opportunities like this which enable all of us to pause, reflect and to refresh and enhance our knowledge and approaches and to keep fighting the good fight.Looking forward to getting more of our 'Pasifika' warriors on board!!