Promoting action to build resilient and sustainable island communities

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Voyaging to a Sustainable Planet

Date: 8 June 2016
Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York City
Host: President of Palau
Strategic Priority: Building resilient and sustainable island communities


IMG7747copy2On World Oceans Day (8 June 2016), Hōkūle‘a arrived at the United Nations in New York City to draw attention to how the oceans unite us as one island Earth and to share first-hand stories of the state of the ocean shared by these courageous voyages.

H.E. Tommy E. Remenegsau Jr., President of Palau, addressed the United Nations to celebrate the inspirational journey of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage in creating a more sustainable planet and discuss how the international ocean agenda intersects with the work individual governments, and in particular, island nations, are doing to conserve their territorial waters.

The President highlighted the following points in his address:

  • Shared how locally driven solutions such as the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (which protects 80 percent of the country’s exclusive economic zone as a fully protected marine reserve) and Micronesia Challenge are “bright spots that show us how to sail toward our destination of a more sustainable planet”

  • Drew attention to the efforts of the State of Hawai’i in advancing the Aloha+Challenge that sets six statewide sustainability targets to be achieved by 2030 and was inspired by the Micronesia Challenge. These are “island-led solutions that offer integrated, locally and culturally appropriate models to implement the sustainable development goals”

  • Reinforced the need to take “urgent action on the oceans and particularly the high seas” and called for a “U.N. treaty to protect high seas biodiversity as an important step forward to protecting our common good and future.”

  • Invited member states and supporters to join the Global Island Partnership and support efforts to mobilize large-scale investment in infrastructure across multiple islands at the water-energy-food nexus to build our resilience and ensure our sustainability through the Island Resilience Challenge to be launched during a high level event to be hosted by President Remengesau alongside the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and Governor of Hawaii in Hawaii during the World Conservation Congress.

  • “I call on all islands and countries globally to take leadership and action to protect and save our oceans, our fisheries, our high seas and steward a new era of governance for a sustainable planet.”

During the event, Nainoa Thompson, President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and Master Navigator of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, spoke of the importance of the ocean to island communities and the planet. “To protect life on Earth, we have to protect the oceans; everything that we need to sustain ourselves on this tiny little island we call Earth - our air, our food, all living things - everything is protected by the world’s oceans. Work must be done simultaneously in protecting, preserving and restoring our near-shore and high seas environments in order for us to ensure a healthy world.”

The President of Palau is a leader of the Global Island Partnership alongside the Presidents of Seychelles and Prime Minister of Grenada. The President and Nainoa addressed the United Nations as part of an event entitled “Voyaging to a Sustainable Planet: A Talk Story Uniting Leadership on Oceans,” hosted by the President in partnership with the Permanent Missions to the United Nations of Micronesia, Seychelles, and Grenada and co-sponsored by the U.N. Missions of Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, France, Indonesia, Italy, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Samoa, South Africa, Sweden, Tonga, United States, Global Island Partnership, Polynesian Voyaging Society, The Pew Charitable Trusts, UN-DOALOS and UN-OHRLLS.

Please find here some materials on the event and Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage:

About the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage

Hōkūle‘a is sailing across Earth’s oceans to join and grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world. Covering 47,000 nautical miles, 100 ports, 27 nations, and 12 Marine World Heritage Sites, the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage will continue through 2017 when a new generation of navigators take the helm and guide Hōkūle‘a back to Hawaiʻi after circumnavigating the globe.

To guide the canoe Hōkūle‘a, navigators use traditional wayfinding with stars, waves, wind and birds as mapping points for direction.  Pacific Island people mastered wayfinding and used it to explore and settle the Pacific Ocean.  The Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) recovered and reclaimed this knowledge for Hawaiʻi after a 600-year period of local extinction.  Over the past 40 years, PVS has sailed more than 140,000 nautical miles within our Pacific Ocean home, reconnecting with the past and reimagining a healthier future for the people, oceans, and environment of all of Island Earth.

As the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage crossed the Pacific in 2014 they built the global relationships needed to create a more sustainable planet. Over the course of the journey Hōkūleʻa has been entrusted with commitments to action from the UN Secretary General to world leaders and communities across the Pacific for a more sustainable future.  During a special sail on board Hōkūle‘a in Samoa during the Third UN Conference on Small Island Developing States the UN Secretary General offered to welcome the Worldwide Voyage on her arrival to New York City in 2016.