SAMOA: In Apia, Ban sets sail for sustainable development

Polynesian canoe voyage among the small island developing states in the Pacific. Photo: UNEP

2 September 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sailed with a Polynesian voyaging canoe crew, whose mission is to spotlight the need for action on sustainable development by going around the world using only traditional navigation methods.

“People often say we are in the same boat,” Mr. Ban told the ship's crew on Monday. “I would say we are all on the same small island on the same small planet Earth; this is like a small boat in the universe.”

Mr. Ban also presented the crew with a handwritten message, which they will carry with them as they circle the globe. The Hōkūle'a Worldwide Voyage, organized by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, is planning to cover 47,000 nautical miles, 85 ports and 26 countries, by the time it docks in June 2017.

The message reads: “I am honored to be a part of Hōkūle'a's Worldwide Voyage. I am inspired by its global mission. As you tour the globe, I will work and rally more leaders to our common cause of ushering in a more sustainable future and a life of dignity for all.”

The crew is manning two vessels, the Hōkūle'a canoe, and its modern-day counterpart, the Hikianalia. Equipped with state-of-the-art communications technology, like Google Hangout capabilities, the Hikinalia is documenting the voyage.

The journey, which started in Hawaii this May, is known as Malama Honua, meaning “to care for our island earth.” The stop in the Samoan capital, Apia, coincides with Third Small Island Developing State Conference, as well as the celebration of the International Year of Small Island Developing States.

“Hōkūle'a threads together stories of hope as she voyages across the world's oceans. We are inspired that His Excellency Ban Ki-moon and island leaders are coming together on Hōkūle'a's deck around shared values of preserving and protecting our oceans,” said Nainoa Thompson, President and Master Navigator of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Mr. Ban was joined by a group of senior UN officials, as well as the President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau Jr., who is also the Co-Chair of the Global Island Partnership.

“The crossing of this very ocean by our ancestors centuries ago is an appropriate metaphor for the complex issues that we as Small Island Developing States continue to face,” said Mr. Remengesau.

“To sustainably develop our island countries, genuine and real partnerships are required to ensure that the pursuit of the conveniences of today do not come at the expense of the sustainability of tomorrow,” he added.


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