The COY13 Organising Team chose a slogan which, most probably, only a few outside of the Pacific Region understand and many mispronounces. And still, it is a great slogan for this year’s Conference of Youth that intends to incorporate both a strong call for action and the perspectives of Fiji and other island states of the Pacific.
Talanoa Mada – Youth Accelerating Climate Action combines one of the most important ambitions of young climate activists with a Fijian term that carries its very own spirit. Talanoa Mada (pronounced ‘Talanoa Manda’) describes a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. Through unconstrained mutual storytelling, this process builds up empathy and can foster decision-making for the collective good. Talanoa sessions are mostly practised in Fiji and will also receive a prominent spot at COY13.
Our team member Lagi Seru from Project Survival Pacific in Fiji’s capital Suva explains what the idea behind talanoa means for Fijian people: “Talanoa is an everyday part of Fijian life. Creating a harmonizing environment for all, it brings together people to give thoughts and share opinions without the fear of retribution. People can freely voice their concerns, no finger pointing, and take the time to offer practical solutions at this space.”
So talanoa is all about the process of getting together and listening to each other’s stories. In many Fijian villages, this process is accompanied by a comprehensive protocol that includes sharing kava (a traditional organic and narcotic drink) with everyone who is taking part in the talanoa session. It prioritizes listening to each other over achieving the most effective outcome. This has been very helpful for reuniting society after the 2006 Putsch in Fiji, but the prospect of endless, outcome-neglecting conversations can also seem scary in the face of a rapidly changing climate and the need of urgent climate action.
At this point, you may be wondering how this concept can still ally with the second part of the COY13 slogan. For many climate activists, including us at COY13, the ambition to speed up efforts against climate change rather requires “less talk, more action”, rather than more rounds of talks. However, Rev. James Baghwan pointed out to some of the COY13 team members, that people thinking this way might fall victim to an error of thought. Why? Watch the video!
Not really listening to what other individuals have to tell but being preoccupied with your own opinions and ideas about how the world should work. At COY13 we want to raise awareness for this. And, making everybody’s voice heard – especially those of the most vulnerable, of the excluded, and of the young generation in general – is one of the main goals of COY13. We will showcase how youths of highly diverse backgrounds play a key role in pursuing ambitious climate action all over the world and how successful they are in doing this.
During COY13, we will be working to provide the conditions and opportunities for Talanoa Mada. Individuals from every world region are invited to join our Talanoa Sessions and highlight issues, share thoughts and opinions, discuss where they see priority challenges, how realistic practical solutions could look like, and what we as youth can expect from each other in this joint effort of accelerating climate action.