1 November 2021, Glasgow COP26 - The Pacific voice rang loud and clear when Pacific climate activist Ms Brianna Fruean, took the stage at the opening ceremony of the World Leaders Summit at COP26 in Glasgow today. Sounding the warrior call of Pacific youth, she declared that “We are not drowning, we are fighting.”
Speaking after the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Ms Fruean reminded world leaders that they all have the power at COP26, to be better – “remember that in your meeting rooms and drafting documents are more than just black and white objects’ to remember than in your words you wield the weapons that can save us or sell us out.”
Featured second during the opening ceremony, the Pacific voice was amplified during the special session that featured Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, David Attenborough, as well as the Prince of Wales.
“I felt proud to wear my Sei and carry the light of Pacific people,” said Ms Fruean.
“I hope the world leaders will remember the words and faces of Pacific youth this COP. We have the most to lose but also the most to teach about how to treat the planet with more respect”.
Ms Fruean has had vast experience in working to make a difference having first learnt about climate change while attending the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Samoa in 2008 as a child, waiting for her Mother, a former employee of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
Since then, she has presented at the first-ever SPREP Pacific Environment Forum in 2011, was part of the Pacific Media Team that provided coverage of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil in 2012, she was the first SPREP Youth Ambassador in 2015 at 16 years of age and attended her first UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris, France with the SPREP team.
Ms Brianna Fruean was also nominated for the “University of Canterbury Young New Zealander of the Year 2021 - Te Mātātahi o te Tau” Award as her climate activism has continued to grow.
Her statement made to world leaders at the opening of the World Leaders Summit today at COP26 challenged them to do the right thing.
“I don’t need to remind you of the reality of vulnerable communities. If you are here today, you know what climate change is doing to us. You don’t need my pain or my tears to know that we’re in a crisis
The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing. To wield the right words and to follow it up with long-overdue action.”
The High-Level Segment of COP26 will be held from 1 – 2 November. Pacific Island Leaders to present include Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, His Excellency Surangel S. Whipps, Jr, President of Palau and Hon Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu.
Hosted in Glasgow, the Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change opened on 31 October and will end on 12 November.
The full statement of Ms Brianna Fruean, Pacific Climate Activist:
“When I was a little girl, I was taught the importance and impact of words.
In my culture, in Samoa, there’s a proverb that goes – E pala le maʻa, a e le pala le upu.
It means that even stones decay, but words remain.
A lesson in knowing how words can be wielded how text can change everything how each word you use is weighted how switching one word or number could reframe worlds how climate action can be vastly different from climate justice how 2 degrees could mean the end and 1.5 could mean a fighting chance.
You all have the power here today to be better to remember that in your meeting rooms and drafting documents are more than just black and white objects to remember than in your words you wield the weapons that can save us or sell us out.
I don’t need to remind you of the reality of vulnerable communities. If you are here today, you know what climate change is doing to us. You don’t need my pain or my tears to know that we’re in a crisis.
The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing. To wield the right words and to follow it up with long-overdue action.
If you’re looking for inspiration on this look no further than the climate leadership of young pacific people.
We are not just victims of this crisis we have been resilient beacons of hope. Pacific youth have rallied behind the cry “we are not drowning, we are fighting” this is our warrior cry to the world – “we are not drowning we are fighting.”
This is my message from earth to COP I hope you remember my words today and look closely at your words as you go through COP because:
E pala le maʻa, a e le pala le upu.”