#MyClimateActionStory - Samantha Kwan - Climate Warrior from SamoaAug 19, 2015
Samantha Kwan is a young marine and conservation officer from the Samoa Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE). She is a member of the non-government organization Samoa Conservation Society and is one of the youngest technical member of the community projects assessment team for the UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP).
What was my inspiration?
The inspiration for my involvement on climate action goes back when I was still at school. A team of environmental educators visited my school and conducted an environment awareness programme. It was from that visit I understood how important our natural environment was and why we needed to protect it. It was then I also realized, that there were a lot of things that are not taught at school that we could learn through educational outreach programmes.
When I joined the marine conservation team at MNRE, I learned a lot from the research and assessments we carried out and also some capacity building programmes. The issues I learned back then were different from the issues which are now being talked about, such as climate change. This inspired me to engage in educational outreach programmes to educate people on natural resources and their role in building resilience towards potential impacts of climate change.
These natural resources include coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves. One of their important values is stabilizing and protecting coastlines. This concept is something not many communities know about, but need to understand. Sharing these ideas can mobilize our communities to take action. Our people are the greatest resource we have, and by guiding them and providing them with the right tools, THEY can make a difference.
Working with school children and young people
One of my favourite parts about working with communities, is when I get the chance to talk to kids. I have have engaged a lot of school children and young people and they are at an age where they are open to various ideas. So it’s good to start fostering climate change concepts in them now, so they can also take action. We sit together and we talk about the natural environment, their importance, the threats it faces and what they can do on a practical level to make a difference.
I believe working with young people is important as it is an opportunity for them to develop conversations on climate change themes. This promotes their inclusion on the local and national dialogues around Samoa’s climate change resilient future. When they return to their communities, they are then able to share their experiences and what they have learned with their parents, family and friends.
Is what I'm doing working?
One example that I can consider to be a measure of success was when a teacher of a particular school that I have been working with for 3 years now, told me that the component of one of the national exams that the students did very well in was the component that I raise awareness on.
This goes to show that I’m making an impact. I’m heading in the right direction in what I hope is to inspire young students to become environment stewards and climate change leaders.