Resilient Voices of Tuvalu

We ate, danced, laughed, cried and walked together and we will fight together to preserve and protect our Tuvalu and our Pacific.

by Shiva Gounden

1 August 2023

Talofa from the Rainbow Warrior! Let me introduce you to Tuvalu, a breathtaking atoll nation facing immense climate impacts. Home to approximately 11,000 people, many of its islands and islets stand just 2 metres above sea level, leaving them vulnerable to the rising tides.

Aerial View in Funafuti, Tuvalu

Aerial view of villages in Funafuti, Tuvalu. © Greenpeace / De'allande Pedro

© Greenpeace / De'allande Pedro

This paradise is facing many grave challenges caused by climate change: land salinity, rising sea levels, droughts, extreme heat, cyclones, and coastal erosion are just some of the struggles they confront daily.

Despite these challenges, we’ve heard incredibly powerful stories about how climate change is impacting everyday lives and how Tuvaluans are standing up to protect and preserve their vibrant cultures, their lands, their languages and their communities.

We are even more determined than before to carry these stories of strength and realities of climate impacts with us to the world’s highest court as part of the historic Pasifika-led campaign for climate justice.

From the moment we arrived, the Tuvaluan community welcomed us with open arms and hearts. They prepared for weeks to showcase their vibrant culture, an important part of the Tuvaluan communal fabric that could be lost to climate change, and made us feel like an integral part of their kaiga (family).

Picture this: our beloved Rainbow Warrior, sailing gracefully through the vast Pacific Ocean, welcomed to Tuvalu with a breathtaking traditional Maululu ceremony. Canoes filled with people from different islands, singing hymns with harmonious melodies, guided our ship to dock. The feeling was indescribable – truly special!

Traditional paopao (canoes) escorted the arriving ship to shore, where those aboard were welcomed by the community of Tuvalu, civil society groups, and addressed by Representatives from the Government of Tuvalu including the Hon. Prime Minister Kausea Natano and the Hon. Minister for Finance and Climate Change Seve Paeniu. © Greenpeace / Sam Pedro

During our stay, we engaged in open boat sessions with communities, schools, and civil society organisations, learning from each other and celebrating the strength of Tuvalu’s culture and their global leadership fighting for climate justice. The activist training onboard the Rainbow Warrior was a beautiful exchange of knowledge and passion.

Thank you for being a part of this incredible journey with us. We ate together, danced together, laughed together, cried together, walked together, shared together and we will fight together to preserve and protect our Tuvalu and our Pacific.

Now, we set sail for Suva, Fiji, where our focus will be to collaborate with communities, amplify the demands of climate justice activists, and foster discussion, talanoa, action, and friendship.

Fakafetai Lasi (thank you very much) for your love and for walking with us on this journey.

Fetaui Tuvalu – we will see you again!

Alofa kae aava lasi kia koutou (much love and respect to you all)

Shiva Gounden

By Shiva Gounden

Shiva is the Pacific Community Engagement Manager and Advisor at Greenpeace Australia Pacific with a background in humanitarian work, social justice and community development in post-conflict and disaster areas.

Shiva is Fijian-born, living in Australia, has experienced more than 25 cyclones in his life, including twin cyclones Kevin and Judy in Vanuatu in 2023.

He says he is the product of the experience, observations, generational story transfer and resilience of climate impacts to Pasifika communities, traditions, languages and identities.

Shiva has been prominently featured in global media about the impacts of climate change on the Pacific region.