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Youth and Climate Change in Samoa

Climate change is a major issue for Samoa and the other Pacific island countries. Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has identified climate change as the government’s main challenge following his successful re-election in 2016. Many studies and research projects have addressed the significance of building adaptation strategies towards climate change in the Pacific. However, very few academics have paid attention and effort to include young people specifically in the fight against climate change. Young people often face great barriers in getting their voices heard. This is no different for the youth of Samoa given their social structure and their cultural tradition of respect. As Samoa continues to experience increasing environmental degradation and climatic changes, affecting its social and economic development, a sustainable collective approach from all groups of people including the youth can be crucial. This paper presents an outcome of a study to investigate if the youth of Samoa are active in the climate change projects being implemented in their local villages. The study was based on a particular climate change project called the Integration of Climate Change Risks and Resilience into Forestry Management in Samoa (ICCRIFS). The main focus was to examine if the youths of the project site villages were involved during the project. Particular interest was paid towards the discourses that may have prevented them from participating in voicing their concerns. A qualitative approach was central to the discussions from the youth focus groups, as their responses and perceptions were analysed. The results highlighted the poor level of participation and understanding of the youths about climate change and the ICCRIFS project in their local villages. It revealed a downside of the communication process used between the ministry and the village, as well as the relationship between the local chiefs leading the project and the village youths. The findings also revealed how the youth are exposed to the cultural barriers which have influenced the way they understand and treated the ICCRIFS project. These findings concluded that the project needs a better medium of communication to enhance contact and improve interaction from both sides. The analysis of the youth participants painted the need for someone responsible and committed to lead the project. This will need to be someone who can become a good role model to motivate and encourage everyone in their local communities to work and participate. Hopefully this research paper will provide an opportunity to guide and improve the framework for the overall sustainability of adaptation programs in Samoa. More importantly, I hope this paper will provide a pathway for the youths of Samoa to develop a sense of passion and responsibility to participate and contribute to the various climate change programs being implemented in the local villages.
Type of thesis
Senara, P. O. (2016). Youth and Climate Change in Samoa (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10796
University of Waikato
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