2 Uhr morgens. Der Jura-Student Joseph Hereniko ist noch wach auf Fidschis Hauptinsel Suva, denn er möchte mit SchülerInnen in Deutschland sprechen. Dort ist es 14 Uhr und der 12er Seminarkurs Nachhaltigkeit an der DaVinci Gesamtschule in Potsdam trifft sich zu seiner wöchentlichen Sitzung. Eine Woche zuvor hatte man sich in Bonn kennengelernt bei der Klima-Jugendkonferenz COY13. Nach einigem Hin und Her klappt es schließlich mit der Technik. Hier verschriftlichte Interview. BEST WISHES TO SUVA, JOSEPH! LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!
Thanks for staying up so late just to be able to talk to us, Joseph. You just returned from Germany. What is your impression, did you experience Germany as a role model in terms of climate?
I am not sure if I could say that Germany is a role model for climate since I live here in the Global South. But in a way it is setting a very good example in public transport but it still has a lot to go in the coal mining area. I really do hope that they come up with a phase out for coal in Germany, in the next 5 to 10 years. I know this would still do a lot of damage, but I do understand that it does take time and a lot of people would be impacted by the closing.
What are the impacts of climate change on Fiji?
Me and my family, we live quite a distance from the sea. However, I do feel impacted because the climate here in Fiji has changed a lot in terms of the agricultural calendar. That has changed. Not only that: the temperature has become hotter and hotter. Also, the cyclone season has become more severe. More intense and longer lasting.
What will result from the COP23 Fiji presidency?
The world will recognize that there are small island states around the Globe that are struggeling with the effects of climate change. This is mainly brought about by developed countries and their emissions. My hope is that the dn will recognize their part in cc and will be able to help AOSIS and compensate them for the damages that occur. The presidency should not be a token just for this year and we forget about Fiji and the other vulnurable islands. This should last long and benefit the people. And that we will all hold hands not just here in the Pacific but also in Europe and around the world to tackle the effects of climate change.
What role can young people play in the climate movement?
Another hope of mine is that our governments not just Fiji but of the world will recognize the impact that the youth the young generations in their countries can have on fighting cc and mitigating its effects. Because at the end of the deay it is the youth: It is I, it is you, it is you students who can have the greatest impact awareness and bringing about cc adaption policies. Because We are the future . We are the future leaders of the countries. Politicians , doctors, parents and so forth. Important for government to include young people in the decision making process. When we come of age and we are ready to assume our roles and responsibilities as good citizens of our countries.
I want your students to know that eventhough they are still students in school and quite young they are very important for the future. They can start fighting cc by doing the smallest things at home and in school They will be one of the key parts in cc adaptation and change in Germany. So, to your stuents I would like to say: all the best, I know you will be able to do it. Know that you are capabale of fighting cc at your own level. And hopefully we will meet one day at a COP or a COY.
Are you planning to go into politics?
Do I sound like a politician? I might go into that. Masters in Int Affairs and Diplomacy and join our Fiji mission in Geneva. I am a law student, but for the past two years I took a break to be a English language assistant in New Caladonia at a High School. I am attached to Project Survival Pacific. Created by young people to fight cllimate change locally and internationally.
What is your message to so-called developed nations?
Those born in developed nations do inherit a historic climate debt which is not necessarily their fault. It is nice for me to hear that at least for your part your students and you feel a special resp to change somehing in German policy. I know that your students not just your students but the youth in general in Germany will be able to do that. They will be the backbone in mitigating climate change especially for those of us who are most vulnurable in the world. Your students and you, the youth from dev nation will be in a way the heroes for us, the vulnurable nations. The fight is all around the world It is not just climate change it is a global change that touches all aspects of our daily lives. I love the map: changing perspectives. We need to stop looking at borders and look at our neighbors and how they are affected by climate change.
Yes, I know that as young person when you hear of cc you think that it is an ompossible task because it is on a global scale. But I would like you to know that you can do it: you don’t have to come up with the newest invention… what you can do is join NGOs, become volunteers, join youth campaigns, youth parliaments if you have that, youth oriented organization, join petitions, do a declaration (that‘s what got me to cc, we did a declaration in French class). Many different things you can do by changing the way you eat, the way you move…
You can also be part of exchange programs, Fiji German youth exchange, which was sponsered by the German Umweltministerium. You can be volunteers, join programms, not just in your schools, communities, families, teach your brothers and sisters, importance of eco-freidnly products. Small actions can make a big difference. If you can get more eco-friendly prodcuts, stop using plastic, use glass… it is a very good thing to do. You have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Never be afraid to volunteer, volunteering is a good thing. It makes me happy. Helping others helps you. It‘s wonderful.
Why is it not just climate change?
The reason why I say that it isnt JUST climate change is because the effects of climate change is not just on the climate. It impacts the economy, the social net, it threatens our traditions and our culture, therefore our identity as pacific islanders is threatened. Deforestation and erosion makes us lose our land. We have practised our traditions for generations. Financial impact, social impact, health impact, gender / reproductive health, all aspects of humanity, including infrastructure and communication. Things will be under water.
What I have been trying to do is introduce the term global change. It impacts other things which is why I‘d like to use “global change“. Not just people but also the planet, living fauna and flora.
I am honored to speak to such aware young people. Thank you all for your questions. Vielen vielen Dank!
Vielen Dank an Dich! Thank you for your inspiring answers!