Life Onboard
The Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors Report about the Programme at the UN Headquarters, Oct 17, 2017
The Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors at the United Nations Headquarters
After three weeks travelling onboard Peace Boat's vessel, the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors arrived in New York, where their intense programme of activities came to an end. During the first day in the city, they took part in the Floating Festival for Sustainability that Peace Boat organized on October 15, onboard the ship. The following day, they went to the United Nations Headquarters where they reported about the programme, a COP23-endorsed side-event entitled "Our Ocean, Our Future: SIDS Youth Sailing for Climate Action and Peace: Peace Boat Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors share messages for COP23". The event was organized with the collaboration of Trinidad and Tobago Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

La Tisha Parkinson introduced the ambassadors' experiences in the different ports visited
The representative of Trinidad and Tobago in the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Programme, La Tisha Parkinson, was the first one to speak as she introduced the ambassadors' experiences in the different ports visited including Barcelona, Lisbon, Bordeaux, London, Edinburgh and Reykjavík. La Tisha spoke about her experience and reported about the many things she learnt along the way "Why can people not agree on climate negotiations because it will cost them money when it will really cost people's lives?", she asked the audience in an emotional speech. Next, Zana Kristen Wade, from Belize, shared her message on how to communicate climate change. Uncertainty is an unavoidable feature of the climate change debate - just like any other complex scientific and societal issue. But sceptics have used the presence of uncertainty in climate projections to argue that the science is not sufficiently settled to warrant policies to cut carbon. "Be consistent, talk about risk rather than uncertainty, use visuals, tell human stories and give the top-line message before the caveats", she advised.

Ashwa Faheem spoke about the experience of meeting and spending a few days onboard with Christiana Figueres
Ashwa Faheem, a photojournalist from the Maldives spoke about the experience of meeting and spending a few days onboard with Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC). "I was very inspired by her and her stubborn optimism'. After this programme, I feel more inspired and I feel I have the responsibility to share my experience with everyone who is ready for implementation towards saving our oceans and climate", she said. Later, Shafira Charlette from the Seychelles talked about the importance of activism, especially between young people, referring to the experience of meeting a number of climate activists throughout the programme. "Using craft and art, everyday life can make a difference to the environment. We need to be loud and keep working to save the planet", she stated.

Matea Nauto, from Kiribati, reported about climate displacement
During the programme, the group made connections with different stakeholders in the ports they visited. In France, in Lacanau, they learned about coastal erosion. Climate displacement is not a problem that only small island states are facing. Matea Nauto, from Kiribati, reported about the topic: "Climate negotiations must work with compassion and morals. I am confident Fiji can make this happen at COP23. Let us join forces, keep our homes above water, go against and turn back the tide." Selina Leem, from the Marshall Islands, talked about the links between climate change and nuclear weapons, two of the main problems humanity is facing. For 12 years, from 1946 to 1958, the United States Army detonated 67 nuclear bombs in different atolls for testing. The total explosive power of the nuclear tests in the area equalled 108 megatonnes. To put this level of testing at the Bikini and Enewetak Atolls in perspective, this could be said to be equal to 1.6 Hiroshima bombs being detonated every day for the 12 years of testing. "Many people were displaced and they will never be able to go back home. We don't want the same thing to happen due to the sea level rising", she pointed out.

Ambassador H.E. Teburoro Tito of Kiribati with the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors
Finally, Kya Lal, from Fiji, talked about many of the challenges faced by the group during the three-week programme. "We are no strangers to challenges; we now face the greatest collective challenge humanity has witnessed. Many beyond these walls deny climate change. We know otherwise, to seek out denial and hate with intelligence and empathy. We are now ready, we have the tools to rise to any and all challenges before us," she said. During the event, Kiribati Ambassador to the United Nations H.E. Teburoro Tito took the floor to congratulate the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors for their work: "I am one guy fully behind this!", he told the audience. He also shared a poem: "Let us rebuild our families, cultures, communities, where love and care are part of life."

Yoshioka Tatsuya talked about the importance of making personal connections
Peace Boat founder and director Yoshioka Tatsuya talked about the importance of first-hand testimony and making personal connections. "Peace Boat visits many island states, witness to injustice caused by exploitation, climate change, the economic system and colonization. Climate change is now a world focus. Communities from small islands now have the power, their voices will make the change for our world", he remarked. Finally, the Ocean & Climate Ambassadors shared the Call for Action they prepared onboard the ship. "We will not repeat the mistakes of the past, we will focus on the sustainability of our planet. We will not be left behind," said La Tisha Parkison in the name of the whole group.

After the event and lunch at the United Nations Delegates Dining Room, the group left the building to visit the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to learn about their work on ocean conservation and sustainable development. Mr Andrew Hudson, Head of the Water & Ocean Governance Programme UNDP welcomed them. Coming from the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and Caribbean regions, the Youth Ambassadors actively engaged in this learning experience covering ocean challenges such as ocean acidification, overfishing, habitat loss, invasive species, while reiterating the role of Large Marine Protected Areas for the health of the ocean.

The group visited the UNDP headquarters to learn about their work on ocean conservation
The UNDP's work on water and ocean governance focuses primarily on the challenges related to SDG 6 - sustainable management of water and sanitation for all - and SDG 14 - to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. The projects and programmes bring a diverse suite of actors together to jointly protect ecosystems and ensure the sustainable use of water and ocean resources to build equitable, inclusive and sustainable societies. Yet the work contributes to the achievement of all the SDGs. The group were invited to continue their work and share it widely through the Ocean Hub, a knowledge-sharing platform established for the Ocean Conference in 2017 that will continue to play a role in preparations for the second Ocean Conference due to take place in 2020.

Shafira Charlette, Matea Nauto and La Tisha Parkinson during an interview
The last official event of the programme was an exchange with the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) Climate Change Fellows. Established in 2014, this programme brings early-career professionals from AOSIS member countries to New York for one year to participate as part of each Fellow's national delegation to the UNFCCC and United Nations Headquarters. Each year, candidates are selected to spend a year based in New York following climate change issues, including attending all major UNFCCC meetings. Fellows are expected to spend 80% of their time on AOSIS-related matters and 20% on national issues. During their fellowship, the Fellows receive comprehensive training on climate change issues, including on-going negotiation skills training and media training. It was an informal discussion with current AOSIS Climate Fellows, from the Maldives and the Dominican Republic. Everyone could share their points of views about the many challenges the SIDS are facing. After this event, the group returned to the port to say goodbye to the ship where they lived and travelled during the last three weeks, and to the many friends they had made onboard, before flying back home.