Filipe Veisa is a particularly active Youth Ambassador on Climate Change in the Pacific Region. How do you manage this role?
A leadership role in supporting climate change is very challenging but at the same time very rewarding. It requires commitment and support from all walks of life, including at the grass-roots level. I am thankful to our Pacific Region that we are taking action now. Fiji, where I am from, for example, was the COP23 president. With my current role at the centre, preaching and walking the talk on issues related to climate change is pivotal.
One of my main roles here at the University of the South Pacific (USP) is to promote the programmes and courses that are available at USP PaCE-SD for youths, graduates and practitioners who have completed their first-degree studies and wish to pursue their career pathways in the area of climate change. This in turn will then assist them to go back to their countries, communities and apply what they have learnt in combating climate change impacts. Outside work, I also have talks with our youth groups in church on the importance of understanding climate change issues. This has also led to the initiation of one of our programmes just being developed, called the ‘Initiative Youth Program’, which involves activities such as mangrove planting, foreshore cleaning and home gardening as means to be food secure.
What actions are you taking at the local level to raise awareness of climate issues among young people specifically?
There is quite a lot of awareness on climate change issues happening in our local communities and our youths are taking the lead role in making this happen. Apart from the ‘Initiative Youth Program’, we also offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) on climate change, and most youth in the regions take this opportunity to understand climate change issues and their impacts.
Do you have any inspiring message for the youth in your Region and other ACP countries, on how they can concretely contribute to climate resilience?
Youth, we are the future! We have to start nurturing our planet now before it’s too late. Climate change is real and is happening right now. If we think globally and work locally, we will be able to stay below the 1.5˚C. Climate resilience starts at the individual level and for that to happen, education is key! We need to educate our youth on the reality of climate change and methods we can use to mitigate and adapt to it and to become more resilient.
Felipe Veisa is student coordinator for the climate change programme at the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, University of the South Pacific, one of the main partners of the Intra-ACP GCCA+ Programme in the Pacific.
Interviewed by Jean-Rémy Daue
Communication and KM Expert Intra-ACP GCCA+