27 Sep 2022

Vanuatu children push climate justice message

12:48 pm on 27 September 2022
Children in Vanuatu have taken to the streets campaigning for the urgency to address climate change

Children in Vanuatu have taken to the streets campaigning for the urgency to address climate change Photo: RNZ Pacific/Hilaire Bule

Children in Vanuatu have taken to the streets campaigning for the urgency to address climate change.

Over the weekend, children raised their voices in support of the Vanuatu government, through climate advocacy and campaigns, to stand for climate justice.

The message was clear with children calling attention on the continued effects of climate change being Vanuatu's single greatest development threat.

Led by the Save the Children, Climate Campaign Manager Stephanie Stephens said climate change had a huge impact in Pacific, affecting all sectors, islands, demographic and undermining economic prosperity and human rights.

"It affects all our sectors, agriculture, food, and our environment. It also affects our non-economic sectors such as our culture, our kastom and our human rights," Stephens said.

The over two-hour campaign amplified the voice of children who expressed how climate change was affecting their lives and the climate actions they were taking to address these issues.

Climate Justice

During the parade, the children also launched a song in support of the Vanuatu government's call to bring the issue of climate change to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) through a vote this year at the UN General Assembly.

Children who were part of the ICJ march last week led the call for climate justice to some political leaders, who are building this cause into their platforms and campaigns in the lead-up to general elections.

Stephens said the session gave the politicians the climate messages that would resonate with their constituent voters, and thus raise the caliber of climate campaigns.

Caretaker Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Forestry and Biosecurity, Bakoa Kaltonga, who was present, shared that he was the Special Envoy for Climate Change for the Republic of Vanuatu.

"How the children spoke today on issues of climate change was beyond their ages and as a political leader I really appreciate this - that they're being educated at such a young age to present in these types of events."

International Court of Justice

Last year, the Vanuatu government, with support from a global alliance of civil society groups representing more than 1,500 civil society organisations in 130 countries, launched a campaign which seeks an ICJ Advisory Opinion on the issue of climate change and human rights.

This Vanuatu-led initiative was a step forward in getting climate change to be considered by the world's highest court.

Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation stated there was support from Pacific Island countries for the initiative, as leaders commended Vanuatu on its initiative on a pathway to secure a request from the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for an advisory opinion from the ICJ to clarify legal consequences of climate change, noting the urgency of the climate change threat and the need for accelerated global climate action and implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The communique further stated that leaders want the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution requesting the ICJ to provide their opinion on the obligations of states under international law to protect the rights of present and future generations against the adverse impacts of climate change.

The event in Vanuatu was organised in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), department of Climate Change (DoCC), the Vanuatu Climate Action Network (VCAN) and all Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the movement.