There is perhaps no issue more pressing for Pacific Island nations than climate change. Rising sea levels, warming oceans, and depleted fishing resources put the future of these island nations in jeopardy. It is projected that island nations like the Marshall Islands could be underwater by the end of the century if drastic measures are not taken to limit rising global temperatures. It has never been more critical to protect this fragile ocean ecosystem and the people who call it home.
None of this is news to people who have experienced first hand the effects of climate change on their island homes. Luckily the next generation of Islander youth are ready to take on the challenge. Last month, WorldOregon hosted the Tuna Youth Diplomacy Leadership Program (TDYLP), a group of 22 youth from the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Micronesia who traveled to Oregon to learn best practices for how to take leadership and fight for change.
After a week with homestay families in the Portland metro area, for two weeks the student group met with professional resources throughout Oregon–using OMSI Camp Grey in Newport as their main home-base. From meeting with environmental groups to learning about sustainable seafood practices, participating in beach clean-ups to exploring future careers at places like the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center–these youth were busy. But they never lost sight of their focus for this exchange. They were dedicated to taking what they learned back to their home countries to facilitate real change.