Cycling for a Cause Greater than Fitness

Nov 29, 2015

Taborio-Ambo causeway Photo Credit: UNICEF/2015/B.Sins

Bicycles have been a key source of transport for many centuries. Not only have they provided an easy and cheap method to commute, but they have also offered people freedom and an ability to explore and discover. 

On the 7th of November, Kiribati told their story of climate change using bikes as their vehicle.   

The cyclists gathered at the Bonriki Airport to ride to their final destination at Parliament House in Ambo.  This cycle was one for climate change and more importantly action. The event is first of its kind in Kiribati.

It was created through a joint effort between KiriCAN, Pole to Paris and inspired by pervious events organised by UNDP in Samoa. KiriCAN is an NGO who is a part of CAN International, CAN Pacific as well as being a part of the Pacific Calling Partnership. Their vision is to achieve the protection of the global climate in a manner which will promote equity, social justice and sustainable development. KiriCAN look to empower local civil society organisations and use modalities such as information sharing, capacity building and lobbying on common positions, among others, to achieve their goals. 

Over 50 people joined the 18km cycle. A colourful array of bikes occupied the small islands one narrow road, carefully monitored by local police. These cyclists had a common goal; to put one pedal in front of the next in a bid to raise awareness of climate change; an issue that is of serious concern for the citizens of Kiribati.

The seriousness of the concern was clearly highlighted by the Kiribati COP21 youth ambassador Ms Tinaai Teaua, “This is where I belong, this is the country my ancestors fought for. It is my identity, that is not easy to leave. I do not want to leave Kiribati.” 

The event was highly successful, gaining local and media attention. Not only where they able to generate such a positive scene in Kiribati, but their actions and voices will be taken to COP21 by the Pole to Paris team.

This to add to the multitude of voices the team is taking to Paris, which are calling out for urgent positive action to mitigate climate change. This event was part of the broader, UNDP backed, Pole to Paris: Global Voices initiative, where one of the key goals is to bring as many voices from around the globe to Paris ahead of the COP21 conference. This is to portray the seriousness of the climate change issue and to add to the growing call for positive action on climate change.

While the Pole to Paris team will take these voices to Paris, the important work of both KiriCAN, Pole to Paris and UNDP Samoa continue to provide avenues through which these voices can be heard. But it is not only the voices, it is also the physical act of cycling undertaken in Kiribati which is an excellent example of how to take a stance for something that needs to be changed.

Further, it portrays the importance of the efforts of local communities at a grassroots level garnering recognition for important actions that have been undertaken in mitigating climate change.

Kiribati’s voice is of particular importance as they face the very real threat of sea level rise. It is here where the inspirational act of cycling becomes clearer, as Tinaai challenges: “riding a bike is not what we are used to, now we know we like it, it is fun.”

It is more than just fun; it is a way in which to inspire others to also begin to think about how we transport ourselves on our daily commutes. We have a need to question these methods, are they sustainable? And if they are not why are we using them?  

The sustainable actions portrayed in Kiribati can serve as inspiration for others. We can all cycle, we can all make sustainable decisions and we all have that ability to make climate action a reality. We can also put one pedal in front of the other in a bid to create a cleaner future, just like Kiribati. 

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