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Pacific Islands Forum- Call to secure health of shared ocean

Wednesday August 14, 2019 Written by Published in Environment
Teina Mackenzie. 19081319 Teina Mackenzie. 19081319

Cook Islander Teina Mackenzie has called for Pacific Island Leaders to support a 10-year moratorium on seabed mining and is asking them to prioritize the health of Pacific communities and recognise values beyond economic gain.

Mackenzie is the president of the longest serving non-government organization in the Cook Islands, Te Ipukarea Society, and presented at the Pacific Islands Forum Civil Society meeting in Tuvalu to put forth recommendations on ocean health and governance.

Mackenzie said recommending a moratorium will support the research that will be taking place as part of the upcoming UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

She said a moratorium will also allow leaders to be well-informed on how to progress with the Seabed Minerals industry.

Mackenzie argued, “This is truly utilising a precautionary approach. As well, the resourcing for scientific research will come from a more independent source as opposed to mining companies who have vested interests in progressing their industry.”

She also stated a decades’ delay to seabed mining will support the reduction of the rapid acceleration of climate change, protect coastal and deep-water fisheries from the negative impacts to the seabed and allow for the necessary science to be obtained.

She added “To invest in the health of the ocean is to invest in the health of our Pacific people.”

The civil society members gathered in the Convention Center in Funafuti, in the midst of the “Climate Crisis” and the ocean’s dwindling health to call for consideration and action from the Pacific’s leaders.

In Mackenzie’s opening statement she told the Pacific leaders that securing our future in the Pacific requires securing the health of our shared ocean.

“Reversing her current decline from the myriad of cumulative pressures she endures, and supporting initiatives that will see her productive health return, is what all of us stakeholders must strive for,” Mackenzie said.

She reminded the leaders of the nuclear testing legacy that has been an outstanding agenda and poses a threat of nuclear contamination to the health and security of the entire Blue Pacific.

She said promoting the status of the Pacific as a nuclear free zone under the framework of the Rarotonga Treaty and calling for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons globally would be a sign of true regionalism, supporting, in the first instance, our Micronesian families.

The northern Pacific Islands such the Marshall Islands are not only dealing with rising sea levels caused by climate change but have also highlighted the threat of nuclear contamination. President of the Marshall Islands Hilda Heine may raise this issue again at the Forum Leaders meeting this week.

Mackenzie called for the leaders to support efforts to resolve nuclear testing legacy issues in the Pacific and to sign and ratify the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

On topic of climate change Mackenzie said that larger and more developed countries may be responsible for the accelerated rate of climate change affecting the Pacific islands, but it is also the responsibility of Pacific islanders to continue to engage on these issues.