Sunday, 25 November 2012

Rio+20 Brianna's blog

ARCHIVED - Young Samoan, Ms. Brianna Fruean at 14 years of age is a strong environment advocate. She founded the Future Rush Environment Group of young people in Samoa, and is a member of the Pacific Emerging Environment Leaders (PEEL).

She is attending the Rio+20 Conference with support from PACMAS, the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme and SPREP, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and others that donated to her fundraising efforts.

Brianna and new friends

10th day in Rio, time to leave

"I have one more night here in the bright city of Rio de Janeiro and time has gone by so fast. This morning the traffic was literally at a standstill, it took us one hour to get to the Conference which normally takes us 10 minutes. The military, special forces, the Brazilian & UN police were out in full force. It’s quite sad that things are coming to an end here at Rio+20. All 130 heads of states are now here in Rio. Now on my 11th day as I walk around Rio Centro, I see so many familiar faces, I’ve made so many friends. It was a privilege for me to attend and witness this monumental event. Rio+20 have opened so many doors for me as a young Pacific Advocate. When I leave, I will not be going home empty handed. The lessons I’ve learnt and the people I’ve met I know will stay with me forever. I’ve always had the passion but now I’ve learnt the skills. I am prepared to go home and work even harder. The networks I’ve made will not be left here in Rio."

If Rio+20 is a success and we get the results we hoped for, this time around after 20 years we have our chance to prove we are worthy of this beautiful planet. The real challenge will be changing words on a document into actions that will benefit us all and has to be done by all of us. After two weeks of working in an office environment I am ready to go home, do my part and put my words into action.

Brianna with the Prime Minister of Vanuatu Hon. Sato Kilman

9th Day in Rio: Behind the scenes

"I have two more days till I leave Rio and head back home to Samoa. Today was my favourite day since I’ve been here. It was the first time I’ve ever helped out with a side event.

The morning started off nice and slow but it didn’t last for long. We packed up all the flyers and banners and headed to the side event pavilion. As soon as we got there it wasn’t as easy as I thought.

The Samoan delegation arrived first and it was so nice and relaxing. Then in a blink of an eye all these people rolled in. The side event room got fuller by the minute. The good news was that it was a very successful side event and it was very full, better packed than empty. The leaders from Tonga, Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu and Tokelau came and spoke about the thing they are doing to bring about sustainable development. Also attending was Leaders from Marshall Islands & Kiribati and a few Ministers in the room.

Unfortunately it was so full I couldn’t squeeze into the side event but I stood by outside and got heaps of good feedback from the people that came out.

The Green pacific reusable bags that were given out at the side event provided a lot of colour in the pavilion. People started to crowd around as the Pacific leaders walked out after an impressive side event. Pictures were taken and videos were shot.

Today was such a good experience. I got to shake hands with my pacific leaders and I had the privileged to take a photo with the Prime Minister of Vanuatu. I found myself so lucky to have been introduced to such humble leaders and today won’t be the last the pacific leaders will hear of my name."

Brianna with her interview subject

8th Day in Rio - I can do this!

"The tension is building up as the world leaders are arriving within days.The registration is getting more crazy and now taking forever. Every day Rio Centro gets more and more full. It’s my 8th day in Rio and it went by so fast.

I had to do little interviews today and it wasn’t as easy as I thought. It’s defiantly not the same as interviewing tourists at the Teuila festival (annual festival in Samoa). Since I’ve been here, I’ve only ever interviewed youth, but today I had to interview adults, senior Government officials.

I scoped the room and tried to find the friendliest looking person. I prayed that an Islander would walk in, they are always cheerful once I say I’m Samoa they say yes to an interview. There were no Islanders in sight but I was happy that God was on my side and pushed me to go past my comfort zone. I thought what’s the worse thing that can happen? The first lady I asked was so lovely and as I went along it became easier. The men I found a bit harder to approach but I got some of the best results from them. At the end of doing all this, I added another tool to my Rio+20 tool box. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do here at Rio+20 but at the end it made me feel more confident than ever, like I could do another 100 interviews. I could even see myself interviewing Barrack Obama.

“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” Mahatma Gandhi."

Clean Pacific bags at Rio+20

7th day in Rio - I dont want to miss a thing!

"Walking around Rio Centro, you have to stay alert and wide awake at all times, because there is so much to attend and experience. That Aerosmith song comes to mind, “I don’t want to close my eyes because I don’t want to miss a thing”. That is a typical day at Rio+20. There are side events happening at all times and people to meet and network with. My last two side events, I literally had to run from one pavilion to another and I was late. The place is so huge; they even have golf carts that help transport people from place to place. For me, I have to walk fast and run sometimes because the carts takes too long to flag down and it’s difficult with the language barrier. The volunteers are friendly and helpful but only 5% of them speak English. The other major aspect at the meeting is trying to read through all the material that is given out at every display desk and exhibition booth. They have documentation that is given out for people to read on different issues and programs and recyclable bags. Since I’ve been walking around Rio Centro with my bright green “Clean Pacific” bag, it has gotten the most attention. People would stop and ask me where I got my bag from. It’s the brightest bag at the whole Conference. Good job by the Clean Pacific team on their Green recyclable bags, because it’s certainly turning heads here at Rio+20."

Oceans day at Rio+20

6th Day in Rio - Oceans Day

"It’s Sunday today in Samoa and we are a day behind, it’s Saturday here in Rio. All I could think of this morning was Toanai (Sunday lunch). I haven’t warmed up to Brazilian food yet, there’s an abundance of meaty cuisine in Rio. Lately all I’ve been dreaming about eating is seafood back home. The seafood in the pacific is amazing and taste different to any seafood around the world.

Today at Athletes park in Rio de Janeiro there was an all-day event on Oceans. It focused on all Countries whose livelihoods depend on the ocean. Pacific Islands rely on the sea for food and other necessities. This is why we call our economy a Blue Economy because we depend so much on our ocean as we are covered more by sea than land.

Growing up in Samoa my Dad and I have a Sunday ritual the same one my Dad had with his Father. We would wake up early Sunday morning and go to the fish market. I love it, seeing all different types of sea food and my favourite was the octopus. Now when I go to the fish market there’s not that much fish there than when I was 6. Lately at the fish market there would be only a couple of octopuses and most of the time there is nothing at all.

The Oceans event today at Athletes Park is so important to us in the Pacific and all the Countries that depend heavily on the sea. It’s so vital that we sustain our Oceans. "

Leading to negotiation rooms

5th Day in Rio - Negotiations, negotiations, negotiations

"It’s my Fifth day in Rio and it’s gone by so fast. I’m finally starting to find my bearing’s around RioCentro. It’s a big centre and I’ve been lost many times. One of the areas I wish to see myself in the future, is in the negotiation rooms. I want to become an environmental lawyer. It’s something I’m passionate about and I know I will be happy doing. Here at Rio+20 it has given me the opportunity to see the actual negotiations. It is similar to what I thought it be but definitely never imagined the atmosphere would be this intense. In these rooms, countries write contracts and these contracts should be followed through. Countries have to be very sensitive about matters because they have to negotiate in a sensitive manner to avoid any conflicts. The process is very draining and tiring for lawyers and country representatives. Yet, I am ready to enter that process in the future. In the negotiation rooms there are hardly any Pacific environmental lawyers but just general lawyers, but mainly from Europe and all over the world. I think we should really have our own people fighting for our own land and rights. If its Islanders fighting for their islands, I think they will have more drive and passion then a person who is just in there doing their job. I know that career path will be hard but I will do anything for the beautiful country I was lucky to be brought up in and especially the perfect planet that God gifted us."

A pavilion made of wooden crates at Athletes Park

4th Day in Rio - Athletes Park, 14 June

"It’s Thursday today in Rio and this is the 4th time this week we went in the morning to the RioCentro to try and register for Rio+20 main meeting. That is how tight the security is. Finally the odds were in our favour today; we successfully registered, got our ID cards and got in to the main conference. Rio+20 is being held at this huge venue with different sections. One of my favourite sections is Athletes Park, it is a huge village with different pavilions organised by different Countries and NGOs. This part of the conference is located separately from the main centre, you need to take a 4 minute bus ride to get there. This park is totally amazing. I was stunned by all the displays and all the hard work put into it. I found it fascinating and wished my Environment group was here to witness it with me. It’s a mission getting normal teenagers attention, trust me I’ve had experience with my environmental group. The first thing I thought of when walking in was that I wished my two best friends were there to see it.

The Park had huge digital displays, people in costumes, golf cart tours, recycled furniture, eye catching displays and much more. Everything in Athletes Park had a place in saving our earth and our future and everything was displayed in a happy bubbly manner. I think this is the best way to get youth active in environmental work. If people draw us in with the cool factor and surprise us with our actual interest in the line of work and the rest will be driven with our then passion in the environment. I think a great way of preparing us now is getting us interested today.

Today at Athletes Park I was inspired to work on a wider range of environmental work. I know if this method of making projects cool and interesting then more children from Samoa and the Pacific will be doing similar projects. We will have a huge group of passionate future leaders of tomorrow."

Bibi and new friend!

Bumps along the road at Rio+20

"Today is now my third day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and I'm slowly getting used to everything. You know you're settling in when you call your accommodation home. We woke up this morning and went straight to the Rio+20 centre, after an hour waiting for the taxi. Traffic here in Rio is crazy, I have personally never seen anything it in my life. It is little things like this that make me appreciate that I come from a tiny little island. The area in Rio we are in is rapidly starting to fill up with all the people attending Rio+20 meeting. Since our first day in Rio we have been to register but it has not been easy.

When we got the paper work we were missing the official stamp, when we got the stamp they can't find our paper work in the system, and that’s after two days with them still looking for us in the system. It's been a one step forward and three steps back type of situation. These big official conferences are not as easy as I thought. Another thing I didn't appreciate until this trip is that security is a number one priority. This adds to the complexity in registration as everything and everyone is carefully scrutinized for security purposes. The amount of heavily armed police around the area is very noticeable. I come from Samoa where the Police are not armed and I hope they never will. So the first day I found is quite scary but now they (Armed Police) make feel safer. If something badwas to happen I'm sure they won't see these ladies wearing bright pink and orange floral dresses as threats. It's only been three days but I feel like I've living here for a bit now. I miss my family but when I go back I know I will miss Brazil."

Brianna and friends!

2nd Day in Rio – Youth Blast Summit, 12 June

Today was my 2nd 'whole' day in Rio and it’s been another amazing one! This morning I woke up in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and it still feels unreal for me. Today, I finally got to go to the Youth Blast Summit that I’ve been looking forward to for months. It took us an hour taxi ride from the main RioCentro to the middle of town where the Youth Blast was taken place. It was an exciting ride and Rio looks more fascinating driving pass the mountains and the sea.

As soon as I walked into the venue, I saw all these posters in bright and bold colors, all showing clear and simple messages from children all over the world. While registering at the counter, you could immediately tell by the atmosphere that there was so much passion and hope in the air. These youth from every corner of the world were all there to make a change and it showed in the way they were so approachable and friendly. I walked around asking youth from different countries, questions about what it meant for them being here for the Rio+20 summit, as they did the same with me. The majority of them could hardly speak English but they tried so hard. Everything about today was just pure optimism and just a good vibe all around. Even though I could hardly understand, I still picked up on their key message. There is that saying “lost in translation” and for me today, it was totally the opposite. No matter how different the languages we speak and how far apart the places we are from, we all share the same message because we share the same struggles and a common goal.

I’ve met up with some old acquaintances and made some new networks. For me the best outcome from these Youth Meetings is that I go home empowered with the new relationships that I’ve built with other youth and take with me the stories and struggles we shared and learnt from. Once again, today has been an amazing day and one I will never forget.

Brianna at registration

Welcome to Rio! 9 June 2012

Finally there are no more sleeps, finally my dream had come true, that day I embarked on a trip of a lifetime to attend the Rio+20 Youth Blast meeting and then report on the Rio+20 summit for PACMAS from both a Youth and a Pacific perspective.

Just a couple of weeks prior my parents had broken the news to me that there was a great possibility that I might not make it to Rio, the funding for my trip did not look likely amongst other problems. Quite honestly my heart broke. I was shattered, what was I going to tell everyone at school?

As in most situations like this in my life I looked to a higher power and started to pray that some miracle might happen. Long story short, that’s exactly what happened, with the most generous help of PACMAS, SPREP and everyone that supported me.

I was both nervous with excitement but also worried about the task that lay ahead. I felt the weight of the Pacific Youth on my shoulders and along with my colleague from Fiji we were to be a strong voice of the Pacific.

It was up to us to make sure all the other little islands that are so badly affected by Climate Change; Islands like Tokelau and Tuvalu who are threatened daily with sea level rising and the possibility that the ocean could literally swallow them whole.

Where would these people go? They are relying on me to make sure their kids have a voice at the Youth Blast Summit.I started to worry if I was good enough to be a channel between the events of Rio+20 and our Pacific people, so that our people would be as well informed on the issues and everything that is important to all of us that will take place in Rio. Once again I said my little prayer so that I may do my best and that I may be safe while I am so far away from my little island home.

The actual travel to Rio was long and tiring. A 14 hour flight on top of a 17 hour flight but the experience was worth it all, traveling via Auckland, Sydney, Bangkok, Dubai and finally I was in Brazil.I am here to produce results and to make sure the faith that my supporters have placed in me is not in vain. On the ride to the Apartments I caught a glimpse of the poverty that is a reality in Brazil – young children running in front of cars, juggling and doing tricks for money. It is amazing the extremes these kids have to do survive. I thought to myself do these people even know the biggest environmental meeting in the world is taking place in their city? Probably not, I want to speak for those people too, the young people who have no voice.

My Road to Rio, 8 June 2012

Today I leave my beloved Samoa for New Zealand, Australia, Dubai UAE and finally to my eventual destination Rio de Janero, Brazil. I feel like a hiker at the foot of the mountain looking at the peak and how almost impossible the task that lies ahead looks from down here. Rio+20 was just a dream for me, like something I wished for when I gazed upon a shooting star. Last year when I got invited to speak at the Road to Rio forum in Apia a seed of hope was planted and at night I would water that seed with prayers. Along with prayers I put in the hard work as well, working on numerous projects for both my own environmental group Future Rush as well as 350 Samoa of which the most recent project Connect the Dots was one of my best work ever.Thank you God, to PACMAS, SPREP and the kind people that supported me, for helping to make my dream come true.I leave Samoa while it is still buzzing from the hype of our 50th year of Independence. It is easy to be patriotic at this time and I do want to take that with me to Rio. I feel the pride and the hopes of our nation and the pacific rests in our delegation to Rio. I spoke at a United Nations conference in Apia yesterday and the words that got the biggest response was this “I assure you Samoa and the Pacific will have a strong voice in Rio, I will fight for our rights of our Pacific Nations, I will fight for our future generations” With this said I look forward to the road ahead and what was once a dream is now a trip of a lifetime.

Today for me at least “All Roads lead to Rio”

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