by Agam Agenda | August 08, 2022 | READ THE STORY HERE
Small island states are some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Rising seas levels and increases in natural disasters threaten the ecosystems, livelihoods, and homes of millions of islanders across the globe.
The Marshall Islands are a group of five islands and 29 coral atolls located near the equator in the Pacific Ocean. Inhabited by just under 59,000 people, the Marshall Islands possess the most water territory than any other nation state. With sea levels rising at twice the global average, the Marshall Islands are acting now to make their realities seen and for change to happen nationally and internationally.
Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, cultural ambassador of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and Marshallese poet, has since 2019 engaged the youth of the Marshall Islands to navigate and develop solutions to the environmental challenges threatening their home islands. Through Jetn̄il-Kijiner’s organization, Jo-jikum (which means your home in Marshallese), the youth of the Islands gather to explore the interconnections of natural habitats, climate change impacts, and community health through the arts.
The outcomes of the 3-week long Climate Change and Health Arts summer camp (which began on July 18) have not only been felt locally on the islands, but have also brought the voices of the Marshallese youth to the international arena. This year, Agam Agenda joined Jo-jikum to help in dispersing the experiences of climate change from the Marshall Islands across the globe—and to be recognized by those in power.
Sometimes the ‘international work’ is simply about seeing each other.
Padmapani L. Perez, Lead Strategist for Creative Collaboration, Agam Agenda
Poets, weavers, musicians, and painters make up the team of art instructors who together with government and community leaders shaped the knowledge and skills of participants. Through workshops and seminars the youth are encouraged to create poems and artworks that speak of their realities, motivating them to move from being victims of a global crisis to participants in a global movement.
Art classes at this year’s Jo-jikum summer camp were facilitated by poets, weavers, musicians, and painters. Photos by Jo-jikum.
Poems submitted through the When Is Now campaign will be shared at this year’s summer camp, and artworks and poems made by the Marshallese youth will also be showcased in the When Is Now platform. By connecting the experiences, through words and visuals, of climate activists situated in different countries, we aim to build connectedness and a shared agency to make change.
Visit whenisnow.org to learn more about this global creative campaign for climate action.
Photos by Jo-jikum