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In a couple of weeks, Paris will be abuzz with a meeting which will determine a global strategy for what is to be generally, a better way to treat the earth which has begun to show signs of the imbalance humanity's industrialisation race has created in nature's fragile system.

The fear of climate change-fatigue by members of the public is real - our news feeds and press has been inundated with stories related to the impact of climate change, in relation to the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - but information and action has never been so critical for human survival.


In 1992, the Rio Earth Summit out of which the Rio Convention was borne, including the adoption of the UNFCCC: the convention is a plan to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of green gases (GHGs); done well, it could prevent dangerous levels of anthropogenic influence on the earth's climate system.

The UNFCCC membership now stands at 195 parties, the conference of the parties' gatherings review the Rio Convention's implementation: a major difference in this year's meeting is the intention of achieving a legally-binding universal agreement, and specifically, maintain global warming below two per cent.

Another aspect that has been glaringly different this time around is the emphatic voices of Pacific Island leaders, and its peoples in the argument that two per cent is already too much for low-lying atolls; the Pacific leaders are gunning for a 1.5 ceiling based on the fact that villagers are already being relocated, in both larger Melanesian countries like Fiji and Solomon Islands and unusually high king tides and floods in our atolls and smaller islands.

In Paris, the Pacific delegations will arrive representing a bloc of the United Nations General Assembly, with documents that will reflect regional agreement or consensus on related issues - from the Majuro Declaration on Climate Leadership (2013) to the Suva Declaration on Climate Change (2015).

Pacific leaders will also be walking into the negotiation space with a declaration that will be complementary to physical or infrastructural adaptation mechanisms, the intentions of the KAILA! Pacific Voice for Action on Agenda 2030 is to strengthen resilience through women's, children's and adolescents' health.

However the propensity to focus on the specificity of women, children and adolescents on the document title robs the document of its oomph for when scrutinised, one will realise that the specific areas are not only most fundamental to the general health of our families, communities and nations, but these are also the groups suffering the most because they are not, generally-speaking, prioritised in our health systems.

"Women's, children's and adolescents' health should be prioritised at all costs, it is for all of our benefit," Dr Laurent Zessler, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA ) Pacific Sub-Regional Office Director and Representative said.

The UNFPA Pacific office development program, designed to support national and regional priorities, is a component of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for the Pacific 2013-2017, which covers, among other areas, environmental management, climate change and disaster-risk management, gender equality, poverty reduction and/or basic services; agencies work towards these overarching intentions through programming in their mandate areas.

The intersections which create the cracks through which women's, children's and adolescents' health disappear into can be policies, frameworks and/or legislations within which our governments of the day and/or health systems have to work within.

At the end of the day, the Pacific delegation to COP21 will have submissions that will include health considerations, which is fundamental to adaptation; healthy beginnings for women, children and adolescents is perhaps the most visionary investment any country can make for a resilient population.

KAILA! Pacific Voice for Action on Agenda 2030 was borne out of a three-day gathering in Nadi (Fiji) between October 26 and 28 (2015).

The first two days comprised panels of stakeholders representative of the scientific community including medicine, states and civil society including faith-based organisations and experiences were shared by representatives of young people and a Fijian village that was relocated because of the impact of climate change.

The third and final day were of Health ministers who eventually endorsed the outcome document, including its title.

The Superintendent Minister for the Wesley Division of the Methodist Church, Reverend Jeremaia Waqainabete agreed that faith-based organisations should be playing a critical role in the communal response to climate change impacts, adding however that for effectiveness, a fundamental shift in mindsets was imperative.

Rev Waiqainabete propagated an inclusive theological paradigm for those who had a faith system, which would see Christians for example, consider John 3:16 a verse that was inclusive of all living things and not only human beings; he challenged stereotypes that considered God a male "when really, he is a lot more than what our human mind can comprehend".

Ulamila Vakalalabure who provided a grassroots perspective on gender and climate change also underlined the need for mindsets to change to ensure that responses to the impact of climate change were not still coming from a worldview that was informed by "this is what we have always done" when the reality was or is demanding a completely new way of thinking and acting.

Ms Vakalalabure said a bottom-up approach was crucial for effective adaptation; she used case studies from rural Natewa Bay where she resides, to demonstrate the impact the lack of essential services was causing health issues never seen before, like malnutrition.

Sailosi Ramatu, the headman of Vunidogoloa Village in Vanua Levu, who oversaw the relocation of his village shared lessons learnt to consultation participants including the importance of always being considerate of the relationship between the state, the people, the vanua and the lotu (faith), and ensuring people and health are paramount to relocation considerations and implementations.

"The failure to respond can be costly; we need to be proactive and strengthen health systems to cope with demand and change and leadership is critical," Mr Ramatu read from his list of lessons learnt.

Vanuatu's Department of Women Affairs director Dorosday Kenneth shared her country's Cyclone Pam experience, specifically the impact this humanitarian situation had on sexual and reproductive health services and information; Ms Kenneth emphasised the need to have a strong health system to prevent the unavailability of related drugs and/or associated difficulties brought on by distance in harsh geographic realities.

KAILA! Pacific Voice for Action on Agenda 2030 represents invaluable insights and experiences that will ensure complementarity in our Pacific leaders' submissions: adaptation is not just about building seawalls, it is very much about building resilience in people and a crucial beginning is ensuring women's, children's and adolescents' health.