European Society for Oceanists 2015 Conference: Brussels, 24 June 2015 – 27 June 2015

Europe and the Pacific

European engagements in the Pacific are taking place mainly through connections in trade relations, sustainable development programmes, tourism, humanitarian aid, legal-political relations, new migration patterns, and concerns about the impacts of global climate change. In some respects, however, European connections to the Oceanic region relate uncomfortably to the aspirations and ambitions of Pacific peoples themselves, who wish to engage with peoples of other regions on their own social and cultural terms, and on the basis of their own economic and political interests. Indeed, Pacific Islanders increasingly demand to define priorities in their connections with Europe from their own perspective.

The 10th  conference of the European Society for Oceanists will focus on the increasing call from the Pacific for a new kind of relationship with Europe (in whatever shape or form Europe may be perceived as a region). At previous ESfO conferences, many academics from the region expressed a desire for European scholars to acknowledge the obligations implied by their relations to Oceania, and to exchange the results of their research into knowledge that is useful for the Pacific. At the same time, European scholars who are doing research in the Pacific are facing the challenge to make their expert knowledge more available for policy-makers, having received calls from some governments and also from representatives of the European Union to help improving connections between Europe and the Pacific. This conference aims at creating an opportunity for new kinds of dialogues and relationships between Europe and the Pacific.

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Fading sands

Something is changing in the Pacific Ocean. Tidal levels are increasing, crops are failing, storms are more powerful, and land is being eroded – all of this impacting the children of the region. On Australia’s doorstop the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific have nowhere to run as climatic changes bring frequent disaster to their shores. Living with constant fear, island communities are forced to face the prospect of having to relocate away from their ancestral homes and start a new life as climate refugees without the connection to their past and sacred sites.

From the remote atoll of Ontong Java, to the islands of Guadalcanal, Santa Ana, Santa Christabel and Makira the stories and evidence are the same – it’s not like the times of old, the trees are gone, the cemeteries are under water, they are now living closer to their farming lands and the pressure is on as the population grows and crops begin to fail.

Fading Sands highlights the effects of climate change that are happening now. People are going hungry, being forced from their homes due to sea level rise and as a result are losing their connection to their culture. If you lend your voice, it means their voice can be heard.

Regional cooperation and support always requires public awareness and positive advocacy to bring about change on a policy level. It’s hard to ignore a person’s story when you see it and hear them from them.

This is an opportunity for you to contribute to this film so it can be finished and go public.

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