A Global Community whose voice can make a Difference The pole to Paris: Global Voices Initiative

Nov 27, 2015

Global Voices March through downtown Apia. Photo Credit: UNDP/2015/C.Jones.

We often talk about the global nature of our world. The way in which we can communicate with people in various countries in real time, the way in which we can travel from one side of the world to the other in a matter of hours or days. We can keep up with the current affairs of pretty much any country we choose to. These factors have generated global changes and it is these global changes and opportunities that the Pole to Paris: Global Voices initiative has grown out of. 


Initially Pole to Paris was an awareness raising campaign ahead of the climate summit, COP21, in Paris this December. Two climate researchers are leading the campaign by biking and running from the Polar regions to Paris. The Southern Cycle leg is a 17,000 km journey from the Southern Polar region to Paris. The lead cyclist for this journey is Dr Daniel Price, PhD Antarctica Studies. The running journey, the 3,000 km long Northern Run, is led by Dr. Erlend Moster Knudsen, PhD in Arctic climate and will travel from the Northern Polar region to Paris.


These two journeys will only travel through a certain number of countries, and because of the fact that climate change is a global issue and will have global consequences, it was felt that the there was a need to broaden the scope of the project. Therefore, the initiative decided to broaden in an attempt engage with the global nature of climate change, its impacts and to include a wider audience to further raise awareness of climate change. Pole to Paris achieved this through the creation of the side initiative, Global Voices. 


This initiative aims to engage individuals the globe around and give them the space to have their voices heard. The goal of this initiative is to bring as many concerned voices as possible from around the globe to Paris in order to portray to the decision makers that people do in-fact care about the decisions that will be made at the conference as they will have a direct impact upon their futures. 


The first Global Voices event was held in Samoa with UNDP as key partner. This event was made up of a Climate March through the streets of Apia. The march was preceded by speeches given by Ms Lizbeth Cullity, UNDP Resident Representative and the Hon. Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Leiataua, the Minister of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD). 


The march included approximately 400 school children and concerned citizens who used the opportunity to tell Samoa’s story on climate change. Their voices were successfully shared on the Pole to Paris and UNDP social media platforms gaining further exposure for the Samoan voice. Global Voices events have also been held in; Christchurch, New Zealand; Copenhagen, Denmark; Kalmar, Sweden; and Tarawa, Kiribati. The events have usually been based around a cycle or a march, giving the participants the opportunity to put their words and opinions into physical action and to have that voice taken to Paris. The Pole to Paris team has organized a further event in Colorado, USA and have a number of other events in the pipeline in order to raise as much awareness of climate change and its various implications around the globe ahead of COP21. 


The global nature of the initiative gives all involved the opportunity to portray to our world leaders that in fact climate change impacts all of us. It is an issue that needs to be solved, but must be solved together. We have the opportunity to do this given the global nature of our world and we must make the most of this opportunity. We are part of the global community and as a member of this global community we can in-fact work together as a global family in order to create a brighter future for all. Generating positive changes at COP21 is key, but as a global community we can ensure that the good work achieved there is rolled out over the next number of years. It is our chance, it is our globe and together, with our voices combined, we can generate positive and purposeful change. 


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