In December history will be made in Paris, France with the anticipated sign off on a global climate change agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21).

The Pacific islands contribute to less than 0.03% to the world’s total greenhouse gases yet are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, for them the outcomes of COP21 are crucial.

In the lead up to the global event, regional organisations have come together to help raise the voice of the Pacific islands through a social media campaign using #4PacIslands.

Starting next week it is hoped that online communities will learn more about the impacts of climate change as well as the actions that Pacific islanders are undertaking as they adapt to the effects experienced.  A range of social media messages will be released using #4PacIslands on a regular basis as the world counts down to COP21.

This is one of the many different activities to amplify a Pacific voice under the “Pacific Voyage to COP21, Paris” communications campaign which will also support the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS), the negotiating block the Pacific islands negotiate under at the UNFCCC.

“We in the Pacific islands understand and know all too well the impacts of climate change and that Pacific island communities are implementing actions to adapt to these effects as well as to mitigate climate change where we can with support from our partners,” said Mr. David Sheppard, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“What we call upon now is your support to share these stories of both climate impact and climate action with people around the world by sharing our online messages and by using the #4PacIslands tag.”

Endorsing the joint social media campaign, the Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, appealed for widespread public support to help have Pacific voices heard at the UN Climate Conference in Paris and beyond.

“Climate change is a real and important threat to the livelihoods and sustainable development of Pacific people and it’s imperative for us to have the Pacific perspective echoing in Paris and around the world,” Dr Tukuitonga said.

“Through the Pacific Voyage to COP 21 campaign, the Pacific Community is joining with many other Pacific organisations, groups and individuals to call for the decisive action needed to achieve a significant reduction in the rate of global greenhouse gas emissions to prevent further long term damage,” he said.

“We’re committed to joining with our partners to raise the visibility of the climate crisis in the Pacific and the concerted and urgent actions needed to address them,” he adds.

Reiterating the need for Pacific voices on the global stage ahead of COP21, Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat said “The Pacific region and our Small Island Developing States in particular, face enormous challenges due to the effects of climate change. An ambitious and legally binding agreement from the COP21 meeting that demonstrates care and compassion for the most vulnerable is of the utmost importance.”

“This campaign provides a platform for you to raise your voice alongside the millions of Pacific islanders who wish for a bright and prosperous future; a future that will not be possible for many without substantial and lasting commitments to change.”

The University of the South Pacific (USP) also reiterated the call to Pacific Islanders in support of the social media campaign that would help the Pacific negotiators in Paris through global awareness on climate change issues affecting the Pacific Islands countries.

“Social media is a powerful tool and will help highlight to the world, what the Pacific is fighting for in Paris and how that will affect the smallest communities in our large ocean states,” said Professor Elisabeth Holland, Director of the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) at USP.

As of next week the Council of the Regional Organisations of the Pacific will be releasing different types of social media messages through Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms using the #4PacIslands tag.

They will also be linked to #COP21, #AOSIS, @COP21 and @AOSIS. Please feel free to share and upload these as well as use the #4PacIslands tag to help amplify the Pacific voice.

This is a joint initiative between the Forum Fisheries Agency, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and the University of the South Pacific.- #4PacIslands