Does this paradise have a sustainable development policy?
What influences do industrialised countries have on developments in the Pacific region? So many questions popped into my mind when I imagined a Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) internship in the Cook Islands.
Although my home in Germany is 16,000km or 30 hours’ flying time away, I have close family ties with this Pacific Island country. My uncle is married to a Cook Islander and their home is here in Matavera. After I completed college this summer, I decided to go on work experience - and here I am.
Being from the other side of the globe, Rarotonga offers some completely new experiences and impressions. The nature, culture and lifestyle provide huge contrasts to Germany. Tropical plants and beaches, the singing in church, and the relaxed nature of the people are examples of island-style living.
However not everything is different. There are many similarities and common problems to be found in the Cook Islands. As a global phenomenon, climate change is experienced both in Germany and in the Cook Islands. At home, there are warmer and dryer summers with heavier storms and rainfall and here the sea level may be rising, there is coral bleaching, and more frequent and intense cyclones.
The impacts of development on the environment affect everyone. So what responsibilities do we take to address those problems?
Since the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan several years ago, my government in Germany has decided to take a concerted effort in dealing with nuclear energy. A national policy is in place to turn off all nuclear power stations and increase the percentage of renewable energy by 2030.
There are subsidies for solar panels as well as for wind power plants. Those plans became known as “Energiewende,” (energy transition), and Germany is seen as a pioneer in establishing sources for renewable energy.
Currently, people also discuss things like how to keep cattle properly. The “Massentierhaltung” (yes, a typically long German word) which means “intensive mass animal farming,” is criticised for cruel animal welfare and high greenhouse gas emissions. As an outcome, many people have turned to organic food and meat, or have become vegetarians.
It is important that people are aware of the fact that their actions have a direct impact on the environment and the climate around the world. This is the role of Te Ipukarea Society: education through public awareness: including teaching students how to recycle and compost, protesting against unsustainable fishing practices, protecting regional birdlife, and promoting waste practices of “reduce, reuse and recycle.”
In my first few weeks in Rarotonga I had the opportunity to learn about the Cook Islands’climate change experience, visited schools receiving worm farms and composters for a waste management project, burned 200 DVD copies of the Mitiaro Flying Fish video, and also visited the Takitumu Conservation Area.
For the next four weeks, I am looking forward to finding answers to my questions. I am also looking forward to seeing how those answers are put into action on Rarotonga, and especially how Te Ipukarea Society deals with the challenges.
Palmerston ‘Olympics’ big day for island
THE OLYMPIC Games have begun and on Palmerston Island, students at Lucky School will be taking extra-close interest in the event
That’s because they’ve already held a ‘Olympic” event of their own, a mini Olympics held on July 22. Pupils formed teams representing a number of different countries, and organised all sorts of fun events including a flag raising ceremony.
The school sent CI News some photos of the event, which involved not only the students, but people of all ages, and received great support and encouragement from the community.
Everyone had a great time – and it’s safe to say that the young students will be closely following the fortunes of Team Kuki in Rio over the next week or two.