Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Cook Islands youth shares her experience at worlds biggest climate change conference

Rikana Toroma is a youth delegate traveling as a member of the Cook Islands official government delegation to the 15th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP15) on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Toroma, the 2009 Dux of Araura College in Aitutaki, won a speech competition organized by the National Environment Services for youths.

“First of all the weather is so not my type. It’s SO cold over here; I’m already missing the sun!!! My presence at COP 15 during the past few days has been loaded with a lot of climate change actions. I’m actually participating in the Project Survival Pacific team of the Australia Youth Climate Coalition team. So far, I’ve been raising my voice along side the other pacific youth delegates on what we want the outcome of COP 15 to be.

As leaders of the future, our job at COP 15 is to tell the leaders of the world to choose wisely and act upon the effects climate change has to our countries. We Pacific Islanders are on the frontline of the effects of climate change. Our countries will be the first to be effected if the leaders don’t seal the deal here in Copenhagen.

We have been in action since day one, and I’ve been fascinated by our talented Pacific youth delegates. Luana and I did a little Cook Island dance and performed it as part of our culture show. That was to let people know that if we lose our islands – I’ll lose my culture, my identity and my home. There is no other place in the world I can call home.

Last week we handed out Smarties (chocolates) at the entrance of an Adaptation Policy Negotiation room to help our leaders make smart decisions. I reckon that was pretty AWESOME!!!!

I’ve also been in a lot of media interviews – BBC News, Germany TV, Danish Radio and just interviews from people who haven’t heard about the Cook Islands and just want to learn more about how climate change is affecting the Cook Islands.

I attended some negotiation meetings with the Cook Island delegates; Tania, Mii, Diane, Pasha, Liz and Myra; and I find it really informative. My presence in these negotiations means a lot to me, especially being the youngest in a meeting where the leaders of the world sit together and create solutions to reduce the impact of climate change.
Last weekend I took some time off to see the sights and sounds of Copenhagen, and this week I want to achieve my goal of being here. I want to make sure that the leaders of the world seal the deal and make a positive change on the effects of Climate Change.

I want them to secure my future by making smart decisions. I don’t want them to keep negotiating, because my survival and every other human beings survival on this planet is not negotiable.  From that, I wish to take back a positive message to the people of the Cook Islands, maybe have strategies on how we Cook Islanders can manage in the face of climate change.

So I hope to leave this place with positive changes and look forward to a better future.”   

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