‘Climate change steals and destroys’: Fijian children urge world leaders to protect their schools and lives

Timoci Naulusala And Shalvi Shakshi From Fiji With Parents At Cop23 Conference In Germany
Timoci with his mother and Shalvi with her father in the Fiji pavilion at the COP23 conference in Germany

Children's welfare after natural disasters, Right to education

Two schoolchildren from Fiji have taken to the world stage to tell how climate change has impacted their community.

Timoci Naulusala, 12, and Shalvi Shakshi, 10, called on international leaders to take action to protect their homes and schools when they appeared at the COP23 global conference in Germany yesterday.

“I saw the destruction Cyclone Winston did to my school and village,” said Timoci, from Tailevu province.

“Climate change is like a thief in the night. It not only steals but kills and destroys.

“If we don’t act now there might not be a future for the entire human race.”

The pair went to Bonn with their parents this week after winning a speech competition in Fiji as part of a month of climate action in schools.

Four of the top 10 countries affected by disasters are in the Pacific region – Vanuatu, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

Cyclone Winston destroyed or damaged about 240 schools in Fiji when it devastated the island nation in February 2016. 

More than 12,000 children were affected, thousands were made homeless and more than 40 peopled died.

UNICEF is supporting the education ministries in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Tonga to roll out a disaster resilience education programme. 

Shalvi Shakshi From Fiji Who Spoke At Cop23 Climate Change Confernce

Shalvi Shakshi from Fiji who spoke at COP23 climate change conference

This helps school students prepare for future climate risks, such as having safe spaces in case of emergency and evacuation plans in place for school students.

Timoci and Shalvi are taking part in several events during COP23, including a Youth Climate Activists Activate Talk, Climate Comic Contest on Instagram and youth takeover on Twitter.

In her speech, Shalvi said: “To control climate change our school has opted for an action plan which is to plant trees have three Rs – that is reduce, reuse and recycle, use organic farm products, create awareness campaign in communities and advocate our young generations.”

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