News Update from New Zealand and the Liquid Continent
The pictures give a local scene, prior to a meeting in Auckland with Maria and Te Kawehau for our Charter plans. Here re a couple of recent photos at the Lake, and one of Maria and Qiujing, a film maker, with whom we are discussing making a film of the Pacific ‘Across Oceania’ project.
Across Oceania – Te Au o Te Moana
Planning for Across Oceania, our regional projects on Responsibility for the Governance of Water Ecosystems, is progressing well. We have been maintaining networks with a range of contributors from various professional sectors such as ecosystems science, governance and management, water activists and specialists, ethics and human rights leaders and so on. We are keeping in touch with institutes and agencies and maintaining discussions with indigenous groups.
The inaugural forum, or assembly is to be in Samoa in January 2008, and the plan is for there to be representatives from NZ, Australia, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, French Polynesia, Melanesia and other Pacific countries, and hopefully the Philippines. Following the meeting in Samoa there will be case studies or action-research projects over 5 years. These are to correspond with the local activities of groups who participate in the Samoa meeting, with contributions on responsibility for the governance of water eco-systems to be disseminated through the NZ team, who will have the role of co-ordination. See the article Across Oceania - Te Au o Te Moana - Responsibility for Healthy Water Ecosystems: Governance and Practice, and www.response.org.nz for further details.
Betsan Martin joined Tafaoimalo Loudeen and Taimalieutu Kiwi in Samoa for 10 days of planning and meetings with agencies, Pacific leaders and NGO’s for Across Oceania.
As agencies representing government in the region, South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP) and the Ministry for the Environment in Samoa gave support to our proposed initiative on responsibility for environmental governance.
In New Zealand, we are continuing to liaise with groups in New Zealand, Australia and Pacific countries, with particular follow up from meetings in Samoa, specifically for Across Oceania.
In preparation for the meeting and the ongoing initiative, we are preparing background papers for participants. An introductory paper has been written, introducing the project and outlining key themes, purpose and goals and the ongoing 5 year initiative. Papers on key issues for water ecosystems in the region will include water quality, climate change, international agreements, policy and legislation, research issues. Themes include ethics of responsibility and integrated governance, with the collaborative participation of indigenous knowledge and science, and involvement of those with experience of water stewardship as well as in research and policy
Maria and Betsan have made an exciting connection with film makers for a documentary of the Across Oceania initiative. They are a company who travel internationally creating documentaries on issues of sustainability. We are working through issues of responsibilities and rights for cultural knowledge, accountabilities and intellectual property rights. Further details include appropriate members of the film team and funding.
Responsibility and the Charter in Aotearoa-NZ, and Australia
Laura is working with us one day per week on Charter projects and Across Oceania. We are preparing background papers on topics relating to governance of water, such as climate change, international conventions, policy and statutory provisions in participant countries, provisions for indigenous management of water. We are working on funding applications to support Across Oceania locally.
In February we had a special 3 day meeting with a core group in NZ (Charles Royal, Te Kawehau Hoskins, Maria Humphries, Charlotte Severne, Betsan Martin) and an Australian partner, Robbie Lloyd.
With Charles’ reference to indigenous thought as being responsive to a ‘mind of the land’ we looked to wards a larger system of organization and governance in which such a world view would be embodied. A suggestion was made by Te Kawehau for strengthening responsibility in governance, by ensuring a ‘place’ at the governance table for the environment. By this it was meant either a spokesperson for the environment, or a space being set aside and ‘consulted’ for direction in the interests of the environment.
We were interested in deeper aspects of Responsibility for our team, and gave in-depth attention to the Oceania initiative.
We have been keeping in active communication with Australian groups, and making plans for exchange activities. An Australian contact is through The ChangeAgency, an NGO working on strategies and effective methodologies for bring about social and environmental change. They are linked to Amnesty International. People in our team (Laura, Te Kawehau, Betsan) participated in a dynamic social change workshop program with The ChangeAgency, building skills for working with community groups.
There are further plans for a Human Rights and responsibilities forum, with a focus on Rights and Responsibilities for Water.
A comment was given to me recently by a leader in Social Justice movements here, on the Charter principles: Responsibility, as set out in the Charter, is a new paradigm, based on ethical relations – it transcends the need for rights! He had previously been critical of the Charter, but re-looked at the principles.