Jean-Michel Cousteau Joins World Leaders for Oceania 22

April 19, 2016

Jean-Michel Cousteau plants a tree during the Oceania 22 Meetings. © Luc Hardy

In New Caledonia, Jean-Michel Cousteau joined world leaders for the Oceania 22 Meetings on April 11-13, 2016, for the Fourth Pacific Summit on Sustainable Development. Island nations in the South Pacific and other low-lying nations face increasing threats as the effects of climate change - including sea level rise, increasing storms and cyclones, and contamination of food and water securities – worsen due to human activities accelerating the change to our planet’s climate. World leaders from these island nations came together to discuss the future of their countries and their people as climate change continues to disrupt their native ways of life. Jean-Michel joins these nations to help promote One Voice of the Pacific and gather the world’s attention to the urgent need to lower greenhouse gas emissions and transition our global economy to clean and renewable energy from the sun, winds, tides, currents, and more. A declaration was signed and Jean-Michel’s call to action for us all can be read below:

Time to Act by Jean-Michel Cousteau

I grew up on the coast of the Mediterranean, in the south of France, and began diving at the age of 7. With my father, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and his team, I have produced countless documentary films presenting the wonders of the ocean.

In the course of my 70 years of diving, I have discovered magnificent places in the world. I have also witnessed the destruction of our planet. Today, we face an unprecedented challenge in human history - the acceleration of climate disruption. The Paris Agreement only sets the pace for critical actions, their momentum must grow, and with much more ambition than the text provides for.

Our time is more than counted. There have been enough speeches. The time has come to take action, now, to alter the trajectory of our joint future. We must focus on solutions. No nation can triumph in the face of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, rising temperatures or failing ocean health. Victory means protecting our land and oceans.

Every nation of the world can be victorious if we join forces to find solutions, one of the goals of Oceania 22. Every nation stands to gain something by realizing that the quality of our future depends on the health of our planet. Faced with this challenge, humankind will innovate in remarkable ways; it is able to adapt to the changing needs of our times. We are the only species on the planet capable of choosing not to become extinct.

The Pacific region is paying the high price of climate disruption, faced with the increased frequency and severity of cyclone damage, such as Pam last year in Vanuatu and Winston this year in the Fijian Isles, but also with climate disruption, rising sea levels, changing fish behaviors and harvest and planting periods. Far from being passive, it is engaging in regional cooperation to adapt. But this is not enough, much remains to be done now, particularly in terms of resilience, food safety, ensuring a peaceful future for all, and mobilizing funding that is up to the challenge.

With communication methods that enable us to reach the whole world, we have more knowledge than ever before. We know that our climate is being disrupted faster than ever, that our biodiversity has been altered, that everywhere on the planet, water is increasingly polluted. But together, we can find solutions. Opportunities for creation are endless. We can learn to better tap energy from the sun, the wind, tides and currents. We can reuse or recycle chemical products before they end up in the sea, and cultivate our oceans in a sustainable manner. There are countless possibilities for developing human communities while protecting our common assets.

There is only one water system; together, we live on a single planet of earth and water. Our lives are interconnected, our futures intimately entwined. Let's build a future for water and clean energy that will allow us to live. The time for action is now.