While COP26 was taking place in Glasgow UK….

Research on indigenous ocean communities, fishermen, sustainable development and climate change education was conducted in the small islands of Lakshadweep to study the SDG goals and its implications in climate change mitigation in the ocean habitats.

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

From the Ocean Diaries of Elsie Gabriel:

The voices of small island developing states haven’t been loud enough and amplified at COP26, and I kept wondering how we can continue to push our agenda for the Ocean Habitats in our own backyards. There was no better opportunity than to host climate presentations and the on-goings of COP26 to the youth of our own country and community islanders.

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

I was fortunate enough to be invited to give an inaugural lecture in one of the first-degree Polytechnic colleges to be opened in the Minicoy Islands of Lakshadweep.

Climate change mitigation and career options in Marine Biology and oceanography were discussed in the Senior Secondary School, Minicoy for classes 11 and 12, which was well-received.

· A Cyclothon was organized in the Kavaratti Islands with fishermen leading the troupes through coconut trees and glimpses of the ocean.

· A second Cyclothon was organized in the Minicoy Islands with the Panchayat and community getting involved too.

· A third Cyclothon was organized all the way to the Mangroves of Minicoy Islands celebrating the Mangrove Festival.

An interactive session was held with local Fishermen’s Associations to study and know their perspectives of ocean storms and climate change with reference to traditional knowledge systems. The Yuva Centre of Kavaratti also participated in the discussion about climate crisis and local mitigation initiatives. The Women’s community joined over meals to discuss the garbage disposal methods and recycling resources.

Agatti Airport Image Courtesy: https://lakshadweep.gov.in/

I was privileged to be invited by the traditional artists of Lakshadweep islands where climate change, ocean life and marine biodiversity took the center-stage of their paintings. I also participated in painting an eco-friendly banner with the participants to share the ills of flex and plastic pollution. I met the principal of the high school in Agatti Islands and coordinated lectures on marine biology and oceanography as future subjects.

This wouldn’t be complete without immersing myself in the water. I took several dives to study the oceans coral propagation status.

During my visit, I also met the groups working in communities to develop kitchen gardens to be self-sufficient as all these islands were isolated from mainland and procuring fresh resources is quite expensive. My meeting with fisherfolks was the most educational outcome of my research in the Lakshadweep Islands.

2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference: COP26

COP26 came alive right before my eyes in my own Indian sub-continent. Every day, I kept discussing about the ongoing of COP26.

The Glasgow Climate Pact now recognizes the Ocean under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), with an invitation for all workstreams and constituted bodies to consider how to integrate and strengthen ocean-based action.

In its preamble, the pact highlights, “the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including in forests, the ocean and the cryosphere, and the protection of biodiversity, when taking action to address climate change.” Most significantly, the pact calls for an annual dialogue to strengthen ocean-based actions.

Most importantly, the 2021 Second World Ocean Assessment, indicates that the tipping points are being reached and the risk is increasing, from the perspective of acidification, warming and rise of sea-levels.

Image Courtesy: (Left) Kavaratti Island (Wikipedia/ Mehdi Hassan — South Asia Biz) and (Right) Lakshadweep (Pixabay)

The Lakshadweep Islands, an archipelago of India with 36 islands, may not belong to the small island nations but right before my eyes I witnessed the ocean havocs, community distress, and wrath of the climate crisis even though these islands are the least polluters!

Post COP26, what’s next? Ask yourself in which ever field you may be working in, get your climate change presentations and climate action marching forward. Every effort counts!

You can find the highlights of my visit on Facebook/Meta and Instagram. OR Refer this video to have a glimpse of all the activities and interactions by me

About the Author

Elsie Gabriel is the National Coordinator — Oceans, The Climate Reality Project India. She is a pioneer and an influencer in the domain of marine eco-system conservation and climate change.

The Climate Reality Project India, actively engages igniting the spark and spreading the message of #climatechange amongst educators and civil society.