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Two from American Samoa to attend YPL TechCamp for Climate Action

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Sabrina Kelani Suluai-Mahuka and Cassie Tuineta Mahuka will represent American Samoa at the 2022 Young Pacific Leaders (YPL) TechCamp for Climate Action in Auckland, New Zealand.

They are among the 50 young leaders from more than 15 nations across the Pacific that have been selected to participate.

This was confirmed in a statement issued yesterday.

The U.S. Department of State, in partnership with Cultural Vistas, will host the upcoming in-person workshop October 29-31, 2022 in Auckland in conjunction with the Auckland Climate Festival.

During the TechCamp, participants will come together with regional and U.S. leaders in the field of climate science and science communication to identify innovative approaches to combat the climate crisis and drive environmental resilience.  

Suluai-Mahuka is a 2019 alumni for the YPL conference and also a winner for the 2019 YPL small grants program.

She told Samoa News that taking part in both opportunities were a life changing experience, so whenever there is an YPL event she’ll utilize the opportunity.

 “This was the same case as the YPL Civic Engagement workshop that was held last week in Sydney.

 “With all these YPL events, I am motivated now more than ever to continue pushing for change in our community, which includes advocating for improved education and action for environmental conservation.”

Suluai-Mahuka is one of the founders of Finafinau, which advocates for youth leadership in environmental conservation and land stewardship.

 “Hence, these upcoming YPL events align perfectly with my values as an educator and social architect.

 “I originally applied to be a regular participant but now I have been invited to be a trainer at the TechCamp.

 “This is extremely important because the future generations depend on us to make a change now and it’s our job as responsible ancestors to do that.”

Adding that she would also like to promote more representation for American Samoa at these spaces as our island has a gargantuan amount of knowledge that can be shared with our Pacific island neighbors,” said Suluai-Mahuka in response to Samoa News questions.

Alana Wilson, Hawai’i TechCamp Delegate and Lead Researcher for Empowering Pacific Islander Communities under APPI Women Lead is humbled and grateful to be selected as a Hawai’i representative to attend the Young Pacific Leaders TechCamp for Climate Action.

 “I can’t wait to learn what I can do to further assist and serve Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.”

Delegates include representatives from 350 Pacific, Pacific Climate Warriors, Pacific Blue Foundation, Hawaii Green Growth Local 2030 Hub, The Nature Conservancy, the Pacific Community, universities, and various national government ministries. 

U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue, and Samoa Thomas Udall says the State Department is really pleased to be able to fund and support the program. 

 “This is a special and important program to encourage climate action and provide young leaders a chance to share what they are doing in our Pacific region.

 “Following the workshop, TechCamp participants will incorporate learning and technologies to implement seed grant-funded projects to mobilize climate change stakeholders in their communities.” 

The White House noted at the recent first-ever U.S. Pacific Islands Summit in Washington D.C. in September 2022 that the YPL program is part of the U.S. Pacific Partnership Strategy.

 “We will work with the Young Pacific Leaders program to increase opportunities and develop new initiatives to engage young adults across the Pacific region in areas like education, the environment, civic leadership, and economic and social development.”

BACKGROUND

Launched in 2013, the YPL initiative is the U.S. Government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in the Pacific.

Through programs and engagements, including U.S. educational and cultural exchanges, regional exchanges, and seed funding, YPL seeks to build the leadership capabilities of young leaders and strengthen ties between the United States and the Pacific.

The YPL focuses on critical topics identified by youth in the region: Education, Environment and Resource Management, Civic Leadership, Economic and Social Development.

TechCamps are a public diplomacy program hosted by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State that provides participants with the chance to learn technical expertise that can be applied to address a variety of global challenges.

The 2022 YPL TechCamp for Climate Action is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and is funded through a grant from the U.S. Mission New Zealand. Cultural Vistas serves as the implementing partner.