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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


The 23 September UN Climate Summit was a multi-dimensional event which brought together more than 120 Heads of State and Government, along with leaders from civil society and business, to catalyze ambitious action to address climate change. During July and August, UN-NGLS led an open, transparent nomination process to identify civil society speakers and attendees for the Summit. Ultimately 50 candidates were invited to attend, 18 of whom were provided with travel funding.


Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a 26-year old poet from the Marshall Islands – who is also a teacher, a journalist, a founder of an environmental NGO and a mother – was selected to speak during the opening ceremony of the Summit. She has since been widely commended for delivering the most memorable presentation of the day: a short statement followed by a stirring poem addressed to her daughter, titled “Dear Matafele Peinam.” She brought many to tears and received a long standing ovation in the General Assembly Hall.
A video that accompanied her performance, and the full text of the poem, can be found on her blog: jkijiner.wordpress.com/

Videos of her statement and poem are circling the globe, with more than 350,000 views combined in the last week. Watch her full presentation here:
Statement and poem by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Climate Summit 2014 – Opening Ceremony

More than 120 articles have been written worldwide already about the messages she brought to the Summit, including by several major international media outlets. A tracking document can be viewed here: bit.ly/KJKarticlesClimateSummit

Currently, more than 60 articles convey perspectives and recommendations from many of the 49 additional civil society participants selected through the UN-NGLS process. The tracking document for these articles is available here:
 bit.ly/NGLS-CSO_Climate_Summit_Pr…

The global resonance of the messages brought to the Summit by this diverse array of civil society representatives illustrates the importance and value of civil society participation in UN processes. UN-NGLS expresses its highest respect and appreciation to all of the civil society representatives who brought their hopes and expertise to UN Headquarters for the Summit – several of whom had never left their countries before. UN-NGLS thanks the Climate Change Support Team in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General for supporting this civil society engagement.

For more information about outcomes of the UN Climate Summit, please visit:
 www.un-ngls.org
Email:  info at un-ngls.org

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THE POEM:

dear matafele peinam,

you are a seven month old sunrise of gummy smiles

you are bald as an egg and bald as the buddha

you are thunder thighs and lightning shrieks

so excited for bananas, hugs and

our morning walks past the lagoon

dear matafele peinam,

i want to tell you about that lagoon

that lucid, sleepy lagoon lounging against the sunrise

some men say that one day

that lagoon will devour you

they say it will gnaw at the shoreline

chew at the roots of your breadfruit trees

gulp down rows of your seawalls

and crunch your island’s shattered bones

they say you, your daughter

and your granddaughter, too

will wander rootless

with only a passport to call home

dear matafele peinam,

don’t cry

mommy promises you

no one

will come and devour you

no greedy whale of a company sharking through

political seas

no backwater bullying of businesses with broken morals no blindfolded

bureaucracies gonna push

this mother ocean over

the edge

no one’s drowning, baby

no one’s moving

no one’s losing

their homeland

no one’s gonna become

a climate change refugee

or should i say

no one else

to the carteret islanders of papua new guinea

and to the taro islanders of fiji

i take this moment

to apologize to you

we are drawing the line here

because baby we are going to fight

your mommy daddy

bubu jimma your country and president too

we will all fight

and even though there are those

hidden behind platinum titles

who like to pretend

that we don’t exist

that the marshall islands

tuvalu

kiribati

maldives

and typhoon haiyan in the philippines

and floods of pakistan, algeria, and colombia

and all the hurricanes, earthquakes, and tidalwaves

didn’t exist

still

there are those

who see us

hands reaching out

fists raising up

banners unfurling

megaphones booming

and we are

canoes blocking coal ships

we are

the radiance of solar villages

we are

the rich clean soil of the farmer’s past

we are

petitions blooming from teenage fingertips

we are

families biking, recycling, reusing,

engineers dreaming, designing, building,

artists painting, dancing, writing

we are spreading the word

and there are thousands out on the street

marching with signs

hand in hand

chanting for change NOW

they’re marching for you, baby

they’re marching for us

because we deserve to do more than just

survive

we deserve

to thrive

dear matafele peinam,

you are eyes heavy

with drowsy weight

so just close those eyes, baby

and sleep in peace

because we won’t let you down

you’ll see

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