As we are entering a pivotal moment for water management, we need to prepare the next generations to sustainably manage water resources and secure rich and clean oceans. Heirs To Our Oceans (H2OO) and Olohana Foundation (OF) hosted the H2O21 Water Summit to deliver the knowledge and capacity-development to youth on marine conservation.
Why a Water Summit in kicking off the UN Ocean Decade? According to youth leaders of Heirs To Our Oceans: “We protect what we love, and we love what we connect with.” Youth have been removed from their waters for many reasons. More so, pure clean and healthy water on our water planet has become difficult to find. The greatest way to protect Planet Earth’s waters, especially its greatest water bodies – the ocean - is to raise a generation of leaders who want to protect it.
The H2O21 Water Summit built upon a movement for peoples of vast cultures, wisdom & knowledge to share stories, develop story-telling skills, and connect with the greatest source on Planet Earth: the ocean. For one month (on a weekly basis), youth were to process water themes to guide their learning journey. In between weekly meetups, they participated in independent explorations “in the field” where they could explore each theme further while creating a story unique to their and their community’s perspective.
The event allowed youth, from 9-25 years old, to discover their relationship with water beyond merely physiological and, for those disconnected from water, to reconnect with it. It included a story-telling challenge through which youth shared their stories about water. At conclusion, 115 stories were submitted in the form of movies, spoken words, poetries in motion, blog writings and photography.
Day 1, February 13
Theme: Water Is Sacred
Curiosity: What is sacred about water?
Presentations by Stah Poutai, a Maori Youth Leader, Kahu M. Kalani Souza, Traditional Cultural Leader Hawai’i and Scientist, Skip Lowry, Indigenous Northern California Native American, Descendent of Tribes Yurok & Pit River & Mountain Maidu, and Veda Austin, water researcher, public speaker, artist and author
Day 2, February 20
Theme: Water & Me
Curiosity: How does water impact my body, my mind, and my spirit?
Presentations by Dr. Ricardo Tapilatu, Marine Scientist, University of Papua, Researcher Western Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtles, and Dr. Wallace J Nichols, Author Blue Mind, Biologist and Sea Turtle Researcher and Conservationist. Hisaye Nakamura, Palauan Youth Leader, also shared her film based upon her poetry.
Day 3, February 27
Theme: Water is Life
Curiosity: Am I and my family or community at risk of a water emergency?
Presentations by Dr. Wendy Smythe, Alaska Native Haida, Geo-Scientist, and Kumu Ramsay Taum, Facilitator of Indigenous Cultural Values into Contemporary Business
Day 4, March 6
Theme: Global Movement water
Curiosity: Can I engage 3 of my friends in a commitment to water, joining a global movement?
Presentations by Jeremiah Iron Road, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dakota Access Pipeline Protest, Roberto Yekwam, Indigenous Activist, Papua, East Indonesia, and Honorable Papalii Dr. Tusi Avegalio, Ranking Pacific Traditional Leader from Samoan Islands
Heirs to Our Oceans is an NGO which aims to inspire the next generation of leaders by connecting them in purpose, educating them on the environmental and humanitarian crises they are inheriting and cultivating the necessary skills to make real-world change.