Voyaging Society launches environmental campaign

A campaign targeting behavioural change when it comes to the environment was launched at the Apia Yacht Club yesterday. 

The Va’a Environmental Education Campaign, follows the success of the pilot campaign, Sa Moana Folauga Campaign implemented in 2017. 

This time, the Samoa Voyaging Society will continue building on the work already been done with Conservation International Samoa (C.I. Samoa) and their partners.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Maliegaoi said the campaign is in line with the practical policies the government intends to legislate this year.

“We are working together to help ban plastic, which means that all these companies here who sell plastic bags, plastic bottles and plastic containers will have to sell out because by the end of this year we will legislate to stop the use of plastic and anything that is left over you will have to throw it into the rubbish,” he said.

Tuilaepa said Samoa as well as the Pacific need to take stock of their actions and contribution to the problem of plastic waste harming our marine life.

“I am tired and the heart hurts to keep seeing other people eating their food and throwing their rubbish out into the road, which makes our country look untidy,” he said. 

“When we talk about the environment in tongue and cheek, immediately we think about the plastics. I have been informed and also saw extensive films in many meetings that I have attended on climate change of expansive islands, they are islands of rubbish on the ocean brought about by the forces of the currents.

So all the rubbish that our people in Samoa throw into the river and into the sea literally will be carried away by the currents and will be eaten by the fish and the fish will die, particularly the turtles so this is the problem that we are facing and the result is our own contribution to the dilemma.”

The President of the Samoa Voyaging Society, Schannel van Dijken told the Samoa Observer that the Vaa Environmental Education Campaign will spend a week with each community and aims at increasing environmental literacy of the youth and communities. 

According to Van Dijken, Samoa’s traditional canoe, Gaualofa will continue to be used as a cultural icon and floating classroom platform of taking the environmental education package that they have developed all around Samoa.

 “The other special thing about this programme is that we’re actually not raising awareness, we are building capacity, which is very different because raising awareness doesn’t really mean you’re going to have any behavioural change,” he said. 

“This is targeted at behavioural change and this is why we’re targeting youth because they have influence. 

“Raising awareness doesn’t work, with our team we knew we have to spend time in our community so that we can build trust there. You can’t just expect to go into the space and things will happen. It’s like with our partners, we had to build trust with them so we can take this to the communities now that we have synergy.”

The first project will start in Aleipata with a week spent in half of the district and the following week spent on the other half. The main target group within the communities are young children aged 10 - 12.  The Principals of the schools joined a trainers training workshop on how to implement the programme.

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