A Pacific island voice at international gathering on the Rights of the Child and our Environment

"I hope I open people's eyes and ears to the issues we face in the Pacific, our way of life that is constantly changing and under threat as our environment is impacted from threats." - The Pacific island voice of SPREP Youth Ambassador, Ms. Brianna Fruean, sharing a Pacific message will be heard loud and clear at the 73rd session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child this month.

Youth Ambassador of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) will be presenting at the Day of General Discussion on Children's Rights and the Environment this month.
One of the outcomes from this special event will be the opportunity to address aspects of the relationship between children's rights and the environment.

Ms Fruean will be joining Ambassadors, UN representatives, child representatives and academics in the one day event, with her panel specifically focusing on the 'Children and the effects of environmental degradation – children's rights and climate change.

"I am recommending for climate change to be featured more strongly in both formal and informal education platforms. The climate change curriculums in school must be updated on a regular basis as I find climate change is a changing issue, as this progresses, so must the information that is being taught in schools," said Ms Fruean.

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SPREP Youth Ambassador Brianna Fruean (second from left) at the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris.
Photo: SPREP

"We also need to recognise the role of information education in helping children to learn about climate change. Not all children learn the same and we must acknowledge this so as many children as possible learn about this issue."

Four panels in all will be featured during the day of discussion which focus on the topics of children's exposure to environmental toxicants as well as children's rights and the degradation of ecosystems, loss of biodiversity and lack of access to natural resources.

The day of discussion follows on from a week of workshopping for children for which Ms. Fruean will be a resource person. This is a special highlight for Ms. Fruean her entry into this field was cemented through a similar initiative, the Tunza International Youth and Children Conference on Climate Change in 2009.

"It feels really great, I can't wait to meet the children who are attending, I know how it feels. Seven years ago the role that people played in my position now had such an impact on what I do and the person I am now. I hope that the young people at this workshop will remember me as fondly, in seven years' time."

2010Brianna at the TUNZA Conference in 2010 with other child delegates. 
2015
Brianna with one of her friends made at the TUNZA Conference in 2010. They met up at the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris 2015.

Ms Fruean has been encouraged by the support from Supreme Court Judge, Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, a member of the UN Committee of the Rights of the Child. The first Pacific islander to be appointed as a member of the CRC in 2014, he represents Samoa and the Pacific.

"I'd like to thank Justice Vui, I know it's a big responsibility attending this and bringing voice to our Pacific island concerns at this special gathering. I will do my very best to work and represent us all."

The Day of the General Discussion on Children's Rights and the Environment is 23 September, 2016 at the United Nations Office in Geneva. Attendance by Ms Fruean is supported by UNICEF Pacific.
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