Uniting people, competencies and research vital in climate fight, says Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary
Crown Princess Mary of Denmark with members of the student body at USP’s Laucala Campus. The group comprised undergraduate, postgraduate and masters students in climate change, and journalism. Picture: Brittany Nawaqatabu
By BRITTANY NAWAQATABU
Climate change is a global problem and has to be solved through working together, says Princess Mary Elizabeth of Denmark during a roundtable climate change dialogue on Wednesday with 19 students pursuing undergraduate, postgraduate and masters studies at The University of the South Pacific’s Laucala Campus, Suva.
The Danish royal listened intently to insights from the students on their research and studies on climate change, politics and international relations as well as climate/environmental reporting in the region.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for us because every young people we have met has been so impressive on our visit so far. Some amazing things are happening among the youth here in the region, which is very much needed,” she said.
“I come from a country with a very well-respected and well-known voice in international climate negotiations. We are a leader in term of green solutions and new technologies.
“We also work to bring people together in partnerships, mutual trust and open dialogue.”
Crown Princess Mary said they truly believed in the power of joining together and uniting competencies and research to address the climate change issue.
She noted that the resilience of people in the face of adversity was because their connection to their community spirit.
“We can’t just look at humans and societies as part of the solution. We also have to look at the natural love of the ecosystems that form that world. It is vital to understand that everything is interdependent,” she said.
“We have to look at how we write about climate change, how we communicate, how we develop new laws, new solutions [to ensure] that it’s done in a holistic way, with respect for the country, the people, their traditions, and their cultural norms, as a way to accelerate that change.”
Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy Dan Jørgensen, who accompanied Crown Princess Mary on her first official visit to Fiji, said they looked forward to holding discussions with young people in the region.
He said there was a need to change societies fundamentally if the world wanted to fight climate change and ‘be stable at 1.5 degrees Celsius’.
“We have adopted the most ambitious Climate Act in the world to reduce our carbon emissions by 70 per cent by 2030.
“By 2050, we will be carbon negative, so we must reduce by 110 per cent. Hopefully, we will develop new technologies that can also be utilised elsewhere,” Mr Jørgensen said.
The Danish royal’s visit aimed to increase Denmark’s participation in the global climate agenda and to learn from the students about the challenges their Pacific Island homes faced in terms of climate security and other related issues.
USP postgraduate student in climate studies, Simione Naivalu, shared important messages from his research on reviving traditional knowledge to assist isolated communities in minimising the impacts of climate change.
“We understand westernisation and we tend to forget our traditional knowledge and try to adapt to new ideas. What we’re trying to do now is revive this knowledge because we know our forefathers used these ideas to adapt to changes,” he said.
Journalism student Joeli Bili shared his knowledge on the passing of the Treaty of the High Seas (Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction or BBNJ) and how this correlated with the climate fight in Fiji.
“Part and parcel of the BBNJ draft was the promotion of traditional knowledge. Acknowledging and recognising that we, as indigenous Fijians or indigenous Pacific Islanders, have an important role and a part to play in this climate action,” he said.
Maria Bari, a climate change student, shed light on her research focusing on disaster risk reduction. Her research focuses on the specific role of churches and how faith-based communities played a role in preparing communities for disasters.
USP deputy vice-chancellor of education, Professor Jito Vanualailai, welcomed the visiting delegation and expressed the University’s honour to have Crown Princess Mary share her insights and experiences.
“We are proud of our achievements and contributions to the Pacific community, but we also recognise that we have much to learn from others.
“We hope this visit will strengthen the ties between Denmark and the Pacific, and will inspire us to work together for a better future,” he said.
Crown Princess Mary, who is patron of the United Nations Population Fund, had visited Vanuatu earlier in the week and engaged in similar discussions with students and staff at USP’s Emalus Campus.
She had also visited communities in Vanuatu and Fiji that were greatly impacted by climate-induced disasters.
It is understood Crown Princess Mary’s trip to the Southern Hemisphere, including her native Australia, focused on cooperation in key development priorities such as climate change, women and girl empowerment, health, sexual and gender-based violence, and awareness.
*Brittany Nawaqatabu is a final-year journalism student at USP’s Laucala Campus. She is also the Insight Features editor for Wansolwara, USP Journalism’s flagship student training newspaper and online publication.