The Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors after a Waku Waku presentation on their home cultures. Photo credit: Ryan Carl.

From the Ship

The Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors: Sailing for Change from Stockholm to New York

Jun 30, 2018

Though the seven Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors remained onboard for a relatively short portion of Peace Boat's 98th Global Voyage, they made quite an impact while they were on the ship. The group kept busy with discussions and lectures on climate change, attending social and artistic events, and of course, getting to know each other better through their shared commitment to fighting for a safer and more sustainable future for their countries and the world. "What I learned is that I'm not alone," said Frances Benstrong of Seychelles at the group's concluding event, in which they reflected on their experiences during the voyage.

Onboard affairs weren't the only activities that kept the Ambassadors busy; they attended a number of events and sites on land as well. After boarding in Stockholm, they travelled with Peace Boat through the ports of Copenhagen, Denmark; Bergen, Norway; Reykjavik, Iceland; and Halifax, Canada; before reaching their final destination of New York, USA. In ports, they met both private organizations, such as Denmark's "Sustainia", a business promoting sustainable solutions to challenges businesses face, and governmental organizations, such as Halifax's Sustainable Environment Management Office, which is tasked with overseeing Halifax's approach to addressing climate change, for discussions on the world's changing physical environment, and possible steps we can take to address it.

The Ocean and Climate Youth forged a number of close connections with others onboard in addition to each other. They were able to listen to the testimony of a hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) and received assistance from participants in dressing up in Japanese yukata for the "Tanabata" celebration held on 7 July. In particular, they spent a lot of time with the members of the musical group "Small Island Big Song", with whom they also shared part of their time in Norway and Iceland. The connection between the two groups was natural, as Small Island Big Song also speaks about the effects of climate change on small island states. "Their purpose is very similar to ours," said Sage Belgrave of Barbados. "The only difference is that they use music to communicate [their message]."

In addition to engaging in serious discussions about climate change, the ambassadors also presented cultural information about their home countries. After the successful "Waku Waku: Pacific" presentation, in which the ambassadors from Fiji, Palau, and Timor Leste discussed the culture of their islands, the remaining ambassadors held a "Waku Waku: Indian Ocean and Carribean" presentation on their home islands. Sage Belgrave of Barbados, Sherene Tan of Singapore, Frances Benstrong of Seychelles, and Eve Isambourg of Mauritius gave talks on the food, geographies, and traditions of their homes. Both events featured much festive dancing.

The ambassadors' final day with Peace Boat, 12 July, was not only one of their most important events onboard, but perhaps the most important event of the 98th voyage as a whole: Peace Boat's inaugural Partnership Expo co-organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), the UN Office for Partnerships (UNOP) and the UN Global Compact. The event featured a number of talks from United Nations officials, as well as astronaut Ron Garan. The Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors spoke about their time on Peace Boat, and what it meant for them and their futures in fighting climate change.