post by Dyson Chee – 3 June 2022
“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope, but I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”– Greta Thunberg at the World Economic Forum, Davos, January 2019
This May, I was extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend the Blue Climate Summit (BCS) in Tahiti, Moʻorea, and Raʻiātea. The BCS was an awesome gathering of over 200 scientists, policymakers, business experts, community leaders, and activists dedicated to protecting the ocean, safeguarding the planet, and addressing climate change. At the BCS I learned about groundbreaking solutions, met some incredible people, and found out that the legal drinking age in Tahiti is 18 (in case you’re wondering: no, I did not take advantage of that). However, I can confidently say that one of my biggest takeaways from the BCS is the importance of youth as leaders in the blue climate field.
Although the number of youth at the BCS was quite small, with only around 25 of us, the impact that we made at the summit was powerful. Many of the local youth, who are spearheading creative and innovative projects to strengthen their community, are first-hand witnesses to the impacts of the climate crisis on their homeland. Their passion and camaraderie reminded me of the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp and the Algalita International Youth Summit on Plastic Pollution. Both of these summits are among the most powerful “blue” events I have attended, and, importantly, both of them integrated youth into the event planning. This was reflected throughout the summits, such as by the high number of young speakers and panelists, and it was conducive to peer-to-peer connections amongst youth. My own climate activism in policy and education was inspired by young people like Robbie Bond and Hannah Testa who were already doing incredible work in their own communities.
This is why the Planeteer Alliance’s Blue Climate Action Summit Series are so important. The bodies of water that cover most of Earth are among the most valuable gems we have. We need more youth to be at the forefront of planning and organizing blue climate summits so that these events can successfully uplift and empower young people’s voices and ideas to help protect our blue spaces. As both the present and future leaders of our planet, we must ensure that youth are brought to the planning table to work alongside adults, because only by our powers combined will we be able to protect the things that we love. 💙
Dyson has been involved with CPF since 2018, the same year he was selected for the CPF Young Superhero Award. Dyson has inspired and organized incredible change for the environment on his home island of O‘ahu. He has served on the Planeteer Alliance Design Squad and attended the Blue Climate Initiative in Tahiti as a Planeteer Ambassador.