My name is Okalani Mariner, and I'm at COP27 in Egypt this week. The UN
climate conference is a busy time, full of politicians, negotiations, and
media. But what you won't see on TV is how a day in the life of a climate
activist looks. So I'm inviting you to follow along!
First, a little about me: I'm 20 years old, and I come from Samoa, a small
Pacific Island State. I'm at COP27 as part of the Pacific Climate Warrior
delegation. Together with activists from other Pacific nations, I'm here
to speak our truth: to us, climate action means survival.
[ [link removed] ]Group photo
This is my first time at COP, and I came here to launch the Kioa Climate
Emergency Declaration.^1 We wove many different voices together to create
this Declaration, including mine — I helped draft it as one of the voices
of the Pacific youth, along with those of our elders and religious and
traditional leaders. The Kioa Declaration reflects the fear and hope and
love for our islands that we all share, no matter which generation we
belong to. It feels surreal and beautiful to bring it to the Pacific
Pavillion here at COP27.
So, a day at COP. It means a lot of walking, and a lot of talking! I
started my day today bright and early, meeting my team at breakfast at
7:00 am, before heading to the conference center for our first public
event. At 9:00 am, all of us who drafted the Kioa Declaration sat together
on the stage in the Pacific Pavilion, and spoke about what it meant for us
to represent our communities at the climate conference, and to spread the
message of climate urgency as widely as possible. It was a powerful
moment, and I was proud to be there speaking for the Pacific youth. We
ended on a high energy note, with a group of Tongan youth performing a
After such an intense morning, I joined other Pacific Climate Warriors in
a number of small-group meetings. My main goal for the rest of the day
(and the rest of COP27!) is to speak to leaders, delegates and civil
society about the Kioa Declaration, and share its message with those who
can take it forward into their constituencies and committees.
[ [link removed] ]Team huddle at COP27
After grabbing a quick lunch, I checked out the Children and Youth
Pavilion at the conference venue. As a youth activist it's really
important to me to see this space — and it's the first in 27 COPs that
young people and children were given their own meeting and event pavilion.
My afternoon and evening is filled with more events and meetings. I'm
going to support my fellow Climate Warriors, Kathy and Brianna, during
their speeches and news interviews. Then, our group will meet with a
number of United Nations officials and delegates, to formally deliver the
Kioa Declaration, and raise our voices for urgent action to keep global
warming to below 1.5C.
What's my main hope for this COP27? To be able to bring a tangible result
to my community back home. Pacific islands urgently need action to stop
the worst impacts of the climate crisis — and we equally and urgently need
money to help us live with the losses and damages already caused by
hurricanes and flooding each year.
Communities across the Pacific Islands keep fighting and we hope for the
best, but we're also hard at work preparing for the worst. Climate
adaptation projects, like disaster shelters, flood protections,
infrastructure to prepare and secure schools and hospitals against the
rising ocean — all of these need funding too.
Some countries are starting to hear us and chip in (thanks, Scotland,
Austria, and New Zealand, who pledged new funds on Tuesday!) — but it’s
nowhere near the amount of money that was promised years ago. The need is
only growing, and many more countries continue to make empty promises or
ignore our calls for loss and damage finance altogether.
We need more from the delegates at COP27. I'm hoping for a robust (and
large!) loss and damage fund that actually puts real money into the hands
of the people who need it, and I'm hoping that the fight for 1.5C stays
alive in the hearts of everyone here in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Thanks for reading,
Pacific Climate Warriors
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