Civil Society Forum tackles the issues

By Aruna Lolani and Fetalai Tuilulu’u ,

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TALKING ISSUES: Participants of the Civil Society Forum at Hotel Millenia Samoa at Sogi.

TALKING ISSUES: Participants of the Civil Society Forum at Hotel Millenia Samoa at Sogi. (Photo: Aruna Lolani)

The Samoa Umbrella for Non-Governmental Organization (S.U.N.G.O.) delved into the challenging issues of today during a forum for the Civil Society this week.

Held at Hotel Millenia at Sogi, the forum was to inform the Civil Society Organization members and the public at large about what is being done to address some of the challenges of today – with issues like climate change, trade, land and others. 

President of S.U.N.G.O, Roina Vavatau, said the Forum is all about awareness. 

 “This is basically awareness and we have to raise the awareness among Civil Society; make sure we filter down the information to them about the different developments that we are working on right now,” she said. 

“This includes the S.D.G’s (Sustainable Development Goals), you know ways that we can make our world a peaceful and better place.

 “Another thing discussed is our preparation for our 48th Leaders meeting in Samoa.

Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has asked that the Civil Society and private sectors must be improved so that’s a change that our country will be looking forward to.

 ““The civil society forum is basically a forum for anyone that wants to listen, voice their opinion.”

Mrs. Vavatau raising awareness about the issues is a key part of S.U.N.G.O’s role. 

 “It is one of our core functions, to enlighten and to raise the awareness of N.G.O. civil society or the general public on what’s going on in the region, what are the global agendas and things that our government are part of. 

“The ocean is another issue that we’ve discussed and how fishermen fish without having limits. 

 “It’s true that the Pacific does not hold much land but mind you, most of us depend on the sea.

S.U.N.G.O. President; Roina Fa’atauva’a Vavatau.
S.U.N.G.O. President; Roina Fa’atauva’a Vavatau.

 “This forum can be useful to the farmers out there and it’s important for them to give their feedbacks.

 “You know there’s a way of living made from our lands and there’s a way of living from the ocean and I think these are some of the things that I’m proud of especially the sea. It’s something that we should fight to protect; from people turning it into places for mining; you know from what we called ‘deep sea mining.’ 

 “Our country depends on the land and on the ocean; this is where we get food from and that’s why it’s important to not destroy it with research, exploration or mining for gold.

 “So let us not be tempted into doing things like these and that’s why not only I’m thankful for the government of Samoa but it’s also important to continuously communicate with the government so that they will be aware of what the people want.

 “We also need food security so that we will continue to have food for our children in the future. 

 “I mean if we sell fish undersized, there will be no food for you tomorrow so it’s really important to understand these things; because this is another goal for the S.D.G. for our ocean.

 “I know that we already have laws regarding these issues but the problem is; no one is guarding or monitoring the process.

P.A.C.E.R Plus was also on the agenda,

S.U.N.G.O. acts as an advocate to provide input into Government policy from N.G.O’s, Civil Society and Community Based Organisations on issues they face; and that is why Roina hopes for this forum to have a positive outcome for the people of Samoa.

“So hopefully at the end of this forum, we will report back feedbacks and advices from people to the government about the things that are happening, things that need to be changed. 

 “So our duty is to just inform the government about those issues but it’s up to them whether they want to approve or not but S.U.N.G.O. will always do what they’re supposed to do.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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