Our drums are the voices of our People. Our sails are flags of hope. Our vaka (canoes) are symbols of our communities who have lived as one with nature. We have adapted to the vast expanses of the Pacific – harnessing the energy of the wind, the sun and the currents, guided by nature we travel with our message to the world. As Pacific people, we come with our Pacific Promise to Sydney – A call for Global Action: The Mua Message:
- Appreciate and value the global significance of our Pacific Island space – in a climate-challenged planet, our hope lies in protecting and managing our large natural spaces that provide life-sustaining ecosystem services.
- We need extraordinary partnerships and commitments to sustain the Pacific islands for future generations and for the health of the planet.
- Join us to protect and nurture our environment in harmony with our cultures. Nature, in turn, will help restore our planet – that is our Pacific Promise.
We are the people of the Pacific – blessed with fertile soils, tremendous biodiversity and an abundant ocean with islands scattered over 38 million square kilometres. We are a culturally rich and diverse people sharing some 1,500 languages (25% of the world’s total). Our environment shapes our identity, our life and our survival. We are a unique people, we have survived the strongest winds, the battering of the tides and ridden the waves through time – inspired people, proud of our cultural heritage, nurtured and guided by nature.
The Ocean is in us – it surrounds, sustains and inspires us and is a metaphor for life in the Pacific. The ocean has carved our identity and ingrained our cultures with the respect for its strength, its abundance and its life-giving qualities. We are the thousands of islands and communities connected as guardians of this great Pacific Ocean. We see the signs of over-exploitation. We no longer see the fish and other marine creatures in the size, diversity or abundance of the past. We witness the change as foreign fishing fleets ply our waters in a race to strip our resources. Our coral reefs, the greatest in the world, and our mangrove and wetland spawning grounds are disappearing. Our ocean is vast but not limitless. Growing global populations and the relentless pursuit of unsustainable development is reducing the ability of our ocean to sustain life.
We are on the frontline as rising sea levels, temperatures, ocean acidification and more intense storms combine to damage our crops, threaten our food security, affect our freshwater tables and intrude into our homes. The impacts of climate change test the resilience of our people and our ocean environment. We stand to lose our land, our resources, our identity, our culture and our sovereignty – the very heart of the Pacific way. Yet as the storms get stronger, we remain resilient, bravely adapting, armed with the traditional knowledge of our ancestors and modern-day technology, determined that we leave a healthy home for future generations. We recognise that our vast vulnerable ocean and island home provides essential living services to a climate-challenged planet.