This was the key message given to the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum by Te Ipukarea Society president Teina MacKenzie at this week’s Forum leaders meeting.
Teina addressed the leaders on oceans health and governance, reminding them that securing our future in the Pacific requires securing the health of our shared ocean.
We must all strive to reverse the current decline in our Moana Nui o Kiva, she said, from myriad cumulative pressures she currently faces. And we much support initiatives that will see her productive health return. To invest in the health of the ocean is to invest in the health of our Pacific people.
Teina has been passionate about the potential impacts of seabed mining in the Pacific for a number of years, and sees this as one of the emerging issues of our time.
Her statement highlighted the lack of information we have about our deep seabed, and the potential impact that seabed mining could have on as yet undescribed species.
She went on to talk about the upcoming UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, giving leaders time to get well-informed on how to progress the mining industry, if they choose to do so, and the risks that will be taken should this proceed.
The moratorium would be in line with taking a precautionary approach to seabed mining, something in fact that we are obligated to do under international law.
As well, it would allow time to generate interest and funding for scientific research from more independent scientific research organisations, as opposed to mining companies with vested interests in progressing their industry.
Another opportunity Teina highlighted, aligning with the UN Decade of Science, was using this 10 year period to ensure a strong focus on supporting, involving, and empowering Pacific youth in the development agenda, especially with regards to the custodianship of natural resources.
A commitment to build the capacity within, foster greater interest in, and provide more options for, careers in science, technology, engineering, and maths will assist these future leaders in dealing with the challenges we, and those before us, have created.